ArgonØ Argon Recycling

Gas Recovery and Recycle Limited, GR2L, has developed a unique, closed loop, argon purge gas recovery and purification system, the ArgonØ, to recycle the high purity argon purge gas used in the fabrication of Silicon wafers for Solar PV applications.

About the ArgonØ

The ArgonØ system purifies the contaminated exhaust gas recovered from the vacuum pump through a two-step process. In the first step the carbon monoxide and hydrogen are combusted in a solid-state combustion reactor to carbon dioxide and water respectively. The process utilises a unique patented chemical looping combustive purification technology where no gas phase oxygen is used guaranteeing the recycled gas is oxygen free. In the second step the carbon dioxide and water are removed by adsorption onto a zeolite based material resulting in a high purity exit gas to be directed back to the process. The system includes a gas sensor for the continuous monitoring of the purity of the recycled gas stream. The sensor detects for both oxygen and combustible gases and if out of specification gas is detected the system will respond in <5 seconds to switch the purge gas feedback to house argon and protect the process. The ArgonØ system combines two pairs of reactor/absorber vessels. One pair online and the other being regenerated and in standby allowing 24/7 argon recycling. No other gases or chemicals are needed for the regeneration of the reactor vessels other than compressed air. With few moving parts the system has an uptime of 99.9% and is designed such that most routine service and maintenance can be conducted with no interruption to system operation.

The ArgonØ is controlled by a PLC that takes input/output from all the system transducers and valves. It controls the gas flow through the various ArgonØ reactors and automatically regenerates them based on the amount of gas that has been recycled. In addition, the PLC has control links to the CZ Pullers to open and close the valves that recover the exhaust gas from the various Puller vacuum pumps and feed it into the main purifier unit. These can be discrete hardwired signals from the Puller or via an ethernet connection between the ArgonØ PLC and the puller PLC. The ArgonØ PLCs are networked together and linked to a central SCADA PC system where the all the system parameters are monitored and recycle rates reported at both the individual ArgonØ level and also site wide level.

The SCADA PC is linked to the Internet providing GR2L engineers the ability to remotely support the ArgonØ™ systems throughout the warranty period. In addition, the SCADA PC is linked to The Cloud, through a secure data publisher, where it reports the key system data on a continuous basis using Aveva Insight. The Cloud based Insight software allows long term performance monitoring of the ArgonØs; average recycle rates, system regeneration frequency, key system temperatures and pressures are all monitored and can be used to trigger e-mail alerts to both the customer and GR2L engineers if the data trend indicates an impending problem. The Aveva Insight data can be collected into a dashboard view specific for each customer who can log into the Cloud based application and view and download the performance reports as they choose. Within the 12 month warranty period all this remote system monitoring is free of charge, outside the warranty period there is a small service charge for customers to continue to receive this valuable information.