Honeywell gets control system contract for solar panel plant

Phoenix – Honeywell will design and install the core process and safety systems for a new plant under construction by Hoku Materials, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hoku Scientific, Inc. The plant will product polysilicon, a key material needed to produce solar panels. The solar power market is currently estimated to be a $10 billion business, with realistic potential to expand to $30 billion by 2010.

Serving as the Integrated Main Automation Contractor (I-MAC) and sole automation equipment supplier, Honeywell will engineer a tightly integrated solution that will help the Pocatello, Idaho, plant produce 3,500 tons of polysilicon per year. The system will include distributed control, batch management and safety technology.

Hoku Materials is planning to initiate pilot production by the end of 2008 and expects to begin commercial shipments in the first half of 2009. The plant would then continue to ramp up to full capacity until the beginning of 2010.

As the I-MAC, Honeywell will take an integrated approach to designing all automation and control components. The company will provide its Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) platform to serve as the backbone of this system, which will coordinate and control all polysilicon deposition vessels.

Experion will control all plant processes, as well as deliver information from critical plant subsystems directly to operators to aid decision-making in the control room. Hoku Materials will also use Honeywell’s Safety Manager, which integrates safety systems, such as fire-and-gas detection technology, to help protect employees and coordinate safety shutdown procedures. Additionally, Safety Manager will protect the plant’s gas recovery process to help prevent explosive situations and allow the recovered gas to be reused. Honeywell will provide the gas detection technology used in the solution. Hoku Materials will also simplify plant operations with Experion Batch Manager, an embedded function in Experion that allows operators to increase production by executing batches at the control level.

“Alternative energy has never been a more important issue than it is today, and new facilities such as Hoku Materials’ Pocatello plant will be key to meeting the growing global demand,” said Tracey Haslam, regional general manager for Honeywell Process Solutions. “There truly is no time to waste when it comes to bringing new facilities like this online. The goal of Honeywell’s I-MAC approach is to get a plant up and running as quickly and safely as possible while giving manufacturers the tools they need to keep it running smoothly and profitably.”

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