InnoEnergy new investment with NINES PV supports the development of a high throughput industrial ADE production tool.



DUBLIN- May 25th 2018

Irish equipment and process development firm Nines PV has secured €3 million in new funding to help bring its novel, universal etching/texturing process for solar PV manufacturing to market. ADE (Atmospheric Dry Etching) is the latest innovation from Nines and is an enabler for many cost lowering initiatives being sought by today’s leading solar PV companies. The ADE process is a fully patented solution that was specifically developed for the needs of the PV industry.

The €3 million investment is coming from InnoEnergy and supports the development of a high throughput industrial ADE production tool that is planned to be installed with leading Tier-1 PV manufacturer Hanwha Q CELLS. The pilot tool will be installed at the Hanwha Q CELLS Headquarters for Technology and Innovation in Thalheim, Germany. To support these activities Nines PV has started a new collaboration with machine builder VDL  from Eindhoven in Holland. 

Together with the productization expertise and manufacturing capabilities of VDL, and the ongoing PV cell processing support from long-time collaborator Fraunhofer ISE we believe Nines will be ready to play a major role in the upcoming new wave of PV cell production expansions”-  Nines PV CEO -Edward Duffy   

Nines is planning to rollout this new high throughput industrial tool product; ADE6000 through 2019 and beyond.

UNIVERSAL, ADVANCED TEXTURING: The ADE texturing process developed by NINES PV is a universal texturing process that can texture any type of crystalline wafer and allows seamless switch of wafer supply lines. Adopting ADE will remove any uncertainty regarding upcoming technology changes. It suits multi and mono crystalline wafer, p or n-type, as well as cast wafers and diamond wire cut wafers, without any change of chemicals. Its single sided nature makes it an ideal complement of PERC cell architecture, simplifying the overall process. Furthermore, the ADE textured wafers provide extra low reflectivity, outperforming incumbent technologies and increasing the efficiency of the solar cell.

ECONOMIC IMPACT- LOW COST: The ADE process unlocks the cost saving associated with the use of Diamond Wire cut mc-Si wafers. Also, the low reflectivity that can be achieved allows for cell efficiencies beyond the incumbent wet etch (+0.3% official Fraunhofer CalLab PV Cells certified, +0.6% through customer trials, with potential of more than +1% absolute for mc-Si cells). For large scale cell production, the use of on-site generation for the etching gas makes the total Cost of Ownership (CoO) very competitive, and suits perfectly the upcoming multi-GW factories. The universal nature of the ADE texturing makes it a long-term solution, ready for whatever the market will turn to, removing unnecessary equipment/chemical changes traditionally associated with switching wafer source/technology.

DRY, ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE, THERMAL PROCESS: ADE is a thermal dry process, using Fluorine etching gas to create controllable variations of reflectivity, from 20% to as low as 2% (“black silicon”). It moves the industry away from the water-hungry wet processing benches. It also removes all the barriers that existed with other plasma-based dry processes: the ADE process is thermal and requires neither vacuum, nor plasma. This makes ADE much cheaper and allows for a robust, easily expendable in-line design, a small footprint and large throughput of up to 6000 wafers/h.

SUSTAINABILITY: The ADE texturing process is a dry process using etching gas, reducing the need for water. The fluorine gas has zero Global Warming Potential (compared to other typical etching gases). Global Warming Potential (GWP) was developed to allow comparisons of the global warming impacts of different gases. The larger the GWP, the more that given gas warms the earth compared to carbon dioxide over that time period. Many fluorinated gases have very high global warming potentials relative to other greenhouse gases: CO2 released in the atmosphere has a lifetime of 30-95 years, NF3 up to 740 years and SF6 a lifetime of 3,200 years ! Corresponding GWP(100 years) are 1 for CO2, 17,200 for NF3 and 22,800 for SF6, while the GWP value for F2 is zero.

Fluorine can be scrubbed using either dry (absorption on salts) or wet solutions. Existing wet abatement is suitable.


Nines Photovoltaics (Nines PV) is an Irish SME specialised in advanced equipment manufacturing and process development for the PV industry. Based in the Synergy Centre on the Tallaght IT Campus in Ireland, the company is led by Edward Duffy CEO and Laurent Clochard CTO.

InnoEnergy is the innovation engine for sustainable energy across Europe supported by the EIT.  We support and invest in innovation at every stage of the journey – from classroom to end-customer. With our network of partners, we build connections across Europe, bringing together inventors and industry, graduates and employers, researchers and entrepreneurs, businesses and markets.

We work in three essential areas of the innovation mix:

Updated: 07/11/2019


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