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Argon Recycling and Recovery for Solar Energy

Environment / Gases / Industries

Rocky Mountain Air Solutions is not a seller of recycling and recovery equipment and machinery but is a reliable gas distributor of high purity Argon.

As fossil fuels are being exhausted, solar energy has been called the world’s cheapest energy source and the leader in green energy. Manufacturing solar cells, however, can be costly up front. To help reduce the cost per solar cell, manufacturers can optimize their overall usage by recycling and recovering purge gases like Argon during the process to help with expenses.


Argon for Solar Energy

Argon is used in every day household objects such as incandescent light bulbs and energy efficient windows, and it also plays a very important role as a purge gas in the production of solar panels. It is not the most expensive gas, but the process requires a lot of it. It is necessary to achieve the most efficient energy-conducting solar cells. If there is not enough, the cells’ ability to conduct energy will diminish.


How Solar Panels Are Made

Solar cells, or photovoltaic panels, are made of silicon with metal casing, glass, and wiring. With its conductive properties, silicon is able to transfer sunlight into electricity as sunlight triggers electrons into motion. The metal casing and wiring is necessary for electrons to escape the cell and allow the energy to be harnessed.

Before silicon is prepared to use for solar cells, it goes through a series of chemical processes for purification. Argon is a vital component in this first step of production. Silicon nuggets are placed in a crucible chamber among graphite heaters. Then, Argon purges the Oxygen. This vital step sets up the rest of the process to successfully maximize energy-conduction. The treated silicon, attached to glass, wired, and cased in metal, later becomes an individual solar cell to be placed onto a module.


Argon Recycling and Recovery

In trying to keep the cost of wafer production low, the solar industry at times tries to reduce the amount of Argon used in purge flows. This compromises solar cell purity and performance. If silicon is not treated properly, it can block electricity instead of conducting it, so maintaining the use of high purity Argon is essential.

There are a few advanced ways to recycle Argon that a UK-based company has been working on. The first is recovering it from the point of use. The gas is fed from exhaust lines to a purification system and the purified Argon is returned to the furnace purge supply line. It is important that no other gases enter the system during this step that will contaminate the supply. Centralized systems combine multiple exhaust lines and will combine air, which will contaminate and extend the process. The contaminants will have to be removed in further steps to eliminate Oxygen, Nitrogen, Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide. These applications have the ability to recycle 95% of purge gases from vacuum furnaces, recovering 99.9% purity so quality and quantity never have to be compromised.

These systems not only benefit cost reduction, but they can also reduce your company’s carbon footprint. Through an Argon recycling and recovery system, you will have return of investments, a more reliable gas supply, and protection from price fluctuations and shortages when they come.


High Purity Argon

High purity Argon is critical to create more efficient solar cells. It is important to begin the process with a high purity gas that will maintain purity throughout the recycling and recovery process to be the most cost effective.

Rocky Mountain Air offers specialty gases through a partnership with PurityPlus. Mixed at our PurityPlus certified room in Salt Lake City, high quality gases are guaranteed. Each cylinder is tested for impurities and certified to ensure the highest accuracy mixture possible. This process includes various methods of blending, types of lab analysis, a referenced standard used during preparation and an estimated expiration date.

We’re happy to evaluate the Argon use in your business and review the best delivery system to meet your needs, whether you are in need of liquid Argon or high-pressure Argon. We have varying sizes of high-pressure cylinders and liquid bulk tanks, including consistent delivery schedules and methods of refilling them for our customers.


Partnership With a Reliable Distributor

When the big players, Praxair and Linde merged, they were required to make divestments of some of their air processing plants. Air Liquide is one of the buyers of these divestments. There is a possibility that they could choose not to operate them, but rather increase the efficiency of their existing plants. During this transition, there is a possibility for potential Argon shortages. Situations such as this are precisely the reason why installing Argon recycling and recovery systems and locking in a contract with an Argon distributor is a wise decision.

Rocky Mountain Air always prioritizes its contractual customers whenever there is a gas shortage of any kind. Meaning, when the market is tight, we will sell the gases to those customers that have entrusted us with their partnership by agreeing to a contract before selling to any other entities. This expresses the importance of partnering with a reliable distributor to minimize any potential disruptions to the function of your applications.

Contact your local Rocky Mountain Air location in any one of our five states (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Nebraska) today to speak to a representative. We look forward to serving you!

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