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5N Plus Solar Panel Recycling (Wisconsin, USA)

Thanks to its integrated processing facilities, 5N Plus contributes to sustainable development by providing customers with recycling solutions - including solar panels -  that both meet their environmental concerns and transforms their production residues into value-added product. As part of its strategy for consolidating its chain of supply, 5N Plus has acquired facilities for extracting metals of interest from various concentrates produced by the primary metals industry. The range of technology developed for this purpose has quickly allowed 5N Plus to use as raw materials numerous production residues produced by our clients and containing concentrations of our products. As a result, 5N Plus has developed unique expertise that enables us to offer recycling solutions to customers and to transform an environmental liability into a significant source of supply.

article from ArticlesBase
Solar Panel Waste Recycled

Feb 15, 2010
In DeForest, Wisconsin, 5N Plus Inc., currently a Canadian cadmium telluride (CdTe) producer serving the solar panel industry, plans to open a solar module deconstruction facility. Cadmium telluride is used in thin-film solar applications, and

5N Plus Inc., which plans to begin the solar panel recycling process with the coated soda-lime glass from obsolete solar panels and solar panel production failures, says it may eventually use the leased, 60,000-square-foot facility to recover tellurium dioxide from discarded solar panels as well. 5N Plus Inc. has already received a conditional permit from the DeForest Board of Trustees for a facility using chemical processing, according to reports from the Sept. 8 board meeting. The permit describes the building as located a 4375 Duraform Lane in Dane County. 5N’s project submission delineates the first phase of the recycling process as treating about 10,000 tons in the first phase, with production rising as customer demand increases. The second phase of the project, scheduled within the year, sees 5N recycling full laminated solar modules with 17 employees.

The move is seen as a way for 5N to diversify its financial base. Currently the company derives 85 percent of yearly revenues by providing cadmium telluride to First Solar. However, First Solar company officials were quick to emphasize that the recycling initiative is not a joint effort between First Solar and 5N.

In describing the expansion into DeForest, 5N’s project analysis suggests that it could accumulate up to 7.5 tons of tellurium dioxide in the first year alone. Given the cost of tellurium, the initiative could generate up to $2 million just in the chemical’s value, with several times that amount garnered as a result of recycling. One 5N company executive projects $73 million in revenue in 2010 (with the company’s fiscal year ending May 31).

The DeForest plant is also one of 5N’s largest, and could also be used to produce CdTe, in addition to the tellurium and other materials rescued from recycling. A similar, but smaller, plant in Germany already does such recycling and chemical production work, and a company spokesperson noted that CdTe is worth four times as much as tellurium dioxide.

If the DeForest plant expands into chemical production, it has potentially two new customers; Q-Cells S.E.’s subsidiary, Calyxo, which works in the area of CdTe thin-film technology, and Abound Solar, another producer of thin-film cadmium telluride solar modules. 5N’s shift into recycling is not surprising, given the fact that world production of cadmium is 14 tonnes per year, most of it coming from Canada, and much of it used in batteries. Tellurium is even scarcer, at less than 200 metric tons in 2008, and less than 800 metric tons total from all sources.