MEI debuts processing tech for high-performance solar cells
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
MEI's Pura technology can clean polysilicon with new levels of efficiency. Click on the image to learn more.
MEI LLC stepped out at a solar conference in Berlin Monday, effectively taking the wraps off of a new processing technology for polysilicon that aids the production of high-efficiency photovoltaic solar cells.
MEI, a 70-employee company based in Albany, has been quietly refining its wet processing system, called Pura, in recent years and is quickly signing on solar and semiconductor customers eager to tap the MEI machines, which purifies polysilicon — the building-block material for both crystalline silicon solar cells and computer chips — with improved results and efficiency.
"We've grown nationally very quickly and now we're expanding internationally," said Ed Jean, MEI's global sales manager.
MEI sells its Pura equipment to manufacturers. The system washes and dries gravel-sized pieces of polysilicon, removing impurities.
"What's driving solar right now is who can have the highest efficiency for the least cost," Jean said. "It has become critical that the raw materials have higher and higher purity."
MEI's Pura system addresses that need. Its full-scale cleaning system sells for about $1 million and the company has systems deployed across the country — though the company can't name names due to stiff competition between its customers — including in Oregon.
Officials say the last four years has resulted in about 20 percent revenue growth each year, though the private company declined to disclose annual sales.
This week's debut in Europe — at Photon magazine's annual Solar Silicon Conference — marks the emergence of MEI from a period of stealth operations and, Jean said, the beginning of a steep growth period.
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