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Dow Corning opens solar R&D facility in Belgium

Dow Corning has completed its €9 million Solar Energy Exploration and Development (SEED) centre in Seneffe, Belgium, which includes a Solar Application Centre and a Silicone Synthesis Technology Centre.

By Kari Williamson

The solar R&D facility aims to advance research in new silicon-based materials and solar cell efficiency.

“This investment will accelerate innovation and growth,” says Dr. Gregg A. Zank, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Dow Corning Corporation. “By having this facility in Belgium, we will have access to very talented scientific people throughout Europe to work collaboratively on sound science and technology to develop sustainable products and applications for our customers.”

“The completion of the SEED research centre marks another milestone in Dow Corning’s investments in Europe,” adds Klaus Hoffmann, President, Europe, Middle-East and Africa. “Europe provides access to a highly-skilled workforce and a broad variety of research and innovation resources. SEED’s addition to our European network demonstrates the regions’ strategic importance for the company’s success.”

Dow Corning has also recently announced the completion of its 32,000 m2 European distribution centre, which represents an investment of over €30m.

A green facility

Dow Corning’s new Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIP) cover the entire construction, providing high insulating value in materials up to five times thinner than conventional insulation products, enabling maximal use of internal space.

The solar R&D centre also uses geothermal energy, coupled with a heat pump, for heating and cooling; and building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) in the form of solar PV modules mounted as sun screens in front of the windows, reduce the need for cooling in the office area and simultaneously serve as power generators.

Installation of lab equipment in the facilities has started, and research activities within the SEED are expected to start in the first half of 2012.

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