The pinnacle of gas purification
Dr Rob Grant FRSC, CEO at Gas Recovery and Recycle limited dropped in to PES to bring us up to date with on the latest for argon recycling, which they continue to refine. He is optimistic about the future and thinks a bounce back from the problems associated with Covid 19, is on the horizon. Currently, a new product is nearing the end of its development, which is aimed at recycling the ultra-high purity argon, where the impurity levels in the recycled argon are below 0.01ppm and nitrogen free!
PES: Hi Rob, it’s a pleasure to talk with you as always. We have been following GR2L closely for some years now and you are regular participants in PES Solar/PV. To start with please could you give us a brief overview of your company?
Dr Rob Grant: GR2L was founded in 2008 to commercialise chemical looping combustive purification technology, developed in collaboration with Cambridge University, UK. This addresses the 10-10,000ppm impurity level gap not addressed by current conventional gas purification technologies as seen, for example, in the microelectronics industry at the low ppm end and the general chemical processing industries at the top end of the gap.
We specialise in the recovery, purification and recycling of inert purge gases used in high value manufacturing industries such as solar PV, microelectronics and 3D metal additive manufacturing in the aerospace and medical markets.
Today GR2L’s primary focus is on the photovoltaic industry for argon recycling, which is used in very large quantities during the crystallisation of silicon into ingots, which is the first stage in the manufacture of silicon based solar cells.
In 2010 we entered into partnership with the British based UK Gas Technologies Group based near Gatwick, UK, to manufacture GR2L’s flagship product, the ArgonØ ™, and bring it to market. The UK Gas Technologies Group has a track record in high purity
gas installations in the semiconductor and medical markets and is synergistic
PES: You continue to operate in several industries globally, currently, how important is solar/PV to you and with everything involving Covid-19 occurring during the last 6 months, how has your business changed?
RG: Historically, solar is by far our biggest market with business in Asia dominating and we continue to see growth for GR2L in the region. Every solar ingot production facility today uses high purity argon to purge the furnaces to maintain the purity and performance of the resulting silicon wafers.
However, the Covid-19 crisis has resulted in our solar customers pushing out investments, in both capacity and argon recycle, by 6-12 months and an oversupply of liquified air, from which argon is a by-product, is contributing to a downward trend in argon price.
In the West this effect is not as pronounced, due to the closure of a number of air separation units by the gas companies resulting in price increases for high purity argon and fuelling demand for argon recycle. Outside of solar we have seen a large increase in requests for quotations into the more general heat treatment markets.