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IBM – From Trash to Solar Power Gold

Big Blue, the king of manufacturing computer processors and cooling silicon based computer chips has turned a wasteful process into gold. As you may know that the semiconductor industry uses massive amounts of silicon, a critical element that a solar panel is made up of to turn sunlight into electricity. According to their press release,

IBM estimates that approximately three million silicon wafers worldwide are scrapped each year by the semiconductor industry – representing a significant solar recycling opportunity:

3 million wafers:

  • Stretch for 375 miles if placed end-to-end
  • Cover 22.5 acres of area
  • Weigh 187.5 tons
  • Generate 13.5 megawatts of solar energy
  • Produce 57 million kilowatt hours in solar panels (12-hour day x 365 days)
  • Power 6,000 houses (9,500 kWh per year per house)

One of the primary reasons the cost of solar panels are so high is scarcity of refined silicon. Since silicon is such a highly demanded substance, there is not enough refinery capacity to keep up with demand. IBM has developed a process to recuperate wasted silicon and turn them into solar cells! They’re turning trash into solar power, how innovative for a computer company. It seems like these days the most talented companies and minds in the business world are jumping into the solar power industry to propel the industry to new heights.

Video: IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste into Solar Energy

Author: Deep Patel

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