Palmer Township Semiconductor Plant Wants to Build a Power Plant | Lehigh Valley Regional News
PALMER TWP., Pa. — Semiconductor maker II-VI Inc. is seeking permission from the Palmer Township Board of Supervisors to build an onsite power plant to power a future expansion of its plant at 2251 Newlins Mill Road.
II-VI is a semiconductor and optics manufacturer materials based in Saxonville, just north of Pittsburgh. Its Palmer plant opened in 2017.
The plan shared with the board Tuesday night calls for an array of 40 natural gas fuel cells supplied by Bloom Energy, a company headquartered in San Jose, Calif. The cells are each housed in 7-foot-tall stainless steel cabinets. Materials based in Saxonville, just north of Pittsburgh. Its Palmer plant opened in 2017.
Bloom representative Gregory Oross said fuel cells combine natural gas and water to produce “no combustion, low noise and zero emissions” electricity.
The power plant would be installed in an unused truck parking area and would produce 15,000 kilowatts of electricity for the manufacturer.
In addition to the fuel cells, II-IV wants to install an emergency power substation connected to the main power grid.
BJ Blair, the facilities manager, said II-VI wanted to expand and would increase its current staff from around 40 people to 150.
However, “we need more power,” he said. “We are already pushing the boundaries of today’s inbound service.”
The plant produces silicon carbide (SiC) crystals, he said, which are then sliced for use in electronics production. The substance’s high thermal conductivity makes it extremely useful in many fields, including the manufacture of electric cars, he noted, but the process of growing the crystals is very energy intensive.
The Supervisory Board wanted additional information on certain details of II-VI’s candidacy and voted to postpone the public hearing to April 11.