Chattanooga Engineers Club

CEC meeting- Silicon Metal Production for Photovoltaics, Johan Grobbelaar

  • 13 Nov 2017
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Chattanoogan

NOTE: Officer nominations and Bylaw updates were deferred to a future meeting.

Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is widely distributed in various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. Over 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust (about 28% by mass) after oxygen.

Elemental silicon also has a large impact on the modern world economy. Most free silicon is used in the steel refining, aluminium-casting and  chemical industries.  Even more impactful is the relatively small portion of very highly purified silicon used in semiconductor electronics   — most computers, cell phones, and modern technology depend on it. Silicon is also the basis of the widely used synthetic polymers called silicones and is the key component for solar panels.

This presentation will review the world market for silicon, the industrial process to produce silicon and the potential technology to reduce production cost of silicon for solar applications.

1.0 Professional Development Hour may be awarded to attendees.


Studied Mechanical Engineering at North West University (South Africa).  Worked in various heavy industries in South Africa for the last 22years (petro-chemical, steel, pulp and paper, ferro alloys) of which the last 10years has been with FerroGlobe in the production of silicon.  Transferred to USA operations in December 2016 and based at the Bridgeport Alabama plant. 

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