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solar, panels, energy

A new Dilemma?

High purity quartz is a highly specialized and, in many ways, highly secretive market. It refers to material of ultra high purity – generally higher than 99.99% SiO2 with impurities of less than 50 ppm. The highest purity product based on natural quartz that is currently available has a purity of 99.9992% with boron as low as 40 ppb. The term, high purity, is also used to refer to some quartz fillers used in the semiconductor industry that have a lower SiO2 content of about 99.8%.

Quartz fillers are used to make epoxy moulding compounds (EMC), while high purity quartz sand is used in the production of semiconductor and solar grade crucibles, ingots, lamp tubing, specialized lighting glass and wafer fabrication. US-based Unimin Corp. dominates the global high purity quartz sand market, while exports of lump quartz are made from India and Sri Lanka, mainly to South Korea and Japan, where the materials are further processed into filler products.

Notwithstanding the secrecy that surrounds the high purity quartz industry the size of the worldwide market is estimated at 50,000 tpa for the 99.99% plus purity material. The fact that at least four times the raw material has to be mined and processed to produce solar silicon an estimated demand of about 100,000-150,000 tpa should be available within the near future to satisfy at least 25% of solar silicon production giving rise to a notable increase in requests for high purity quartz resources.