Australian materials technology developer Kinaltek has unveiled a one-step production process it says can convert ordinary silica powders into battery-grade nano-silicon at less than 5 percent of the cost of current technologies. The innovation paves the way for the use of silicon particles in high-performance lithium-ion batteries.
Kinaltek has announced a “revolutionary” breakthrough in the production of battery-grade nano-silicon materials that it believes will allow battery makers to exploit the advantages of silicon anodes to achieve high-density energy storage at disruptively low costs.
Nanosilicon materials are expected to form a key component in the next generation of lithium batteries. Jawad Haidar, CEO of Kinaltek, says that the specific capacity of anodes in batteries using silicon can be several times higher than that of traditional graphite anodes. Haidar said that until now, however, the cost of nanosilicon has been prohibitive, with prices as high as AUD 1,400 ($1,000) per kilogram, making the materials uneconomical to use in mainstream applications.
“The additional cost is largely due to the complex, environmentally damaging multi-step processes used to make nanopip, such as chemical vapor deposition, plasma, ball milling,” he said.
Kinaltek said its patented KinSil technology can convert ordinary silica powder directly into silicon particles in a single step at a fraction of the cost of competing technologies. Haidar said the process is an extension of the company’s technology, which reduces metal oxides to metal powders under very mild atmospheric pressure conditions and temperatures below 500C.
“KinSil can produce a range of high-value silicon nanoparticles, including silicon powders (Si-NPs), silicon wires (Si-NWs) and silicon-carbon nanocomposites, with production costs ranging from US$5/kg to US$50/kg, depending on the type of nanoparticle you want,” he said. .
“As a result, KinSil makes silicon nanoparticles economical to use in all applications, and it makes silicon cheaper than graphite on both a mass and kilowatt basis.”
Haidar said the technology is an important milestone on the way to next-generation energy storage solutions, with the capacity of lithium batteries inherently limited by their graphite anode, which can store about 300 milliampere-hours mAh per gram of graphite. Kinaltek aims to bring to the market an improved and high-performance nanochip with an energy density of up to 1,400 mAh per gram.
“KinSil’s ability to produce low-cost silicon nanowires and carbon-coated nanosilicon could be a game changer for lithium batteries,” Haidar said.
“Efficient nanowires and C-Si nanocomposites produced at a fraction of today’s prices could disrupt the energy storage market.”
Kinaltek said its technology can also recycle silicon from end-of-life solar panels into nano-silicon through a simple primary step that adapts solar silicon for use as precursors to that process. In addition, the company said its KinSil technology has less than 20% of the carbon footprint of conventional multi-step processes and the byproduct is recyclable.
Haidar said the KinSil technology, developed at the company’s pilot plant in Villawood, Sydney, had been successfully tested on a laboratory scale at the 1kg level, and the company had progressed to working on a pilot plant at a tonne scale.
The company said the technology has already attracted a lot of interest from end users, and the company is talking to some of the “biggest manufacturers in the game.”
Despite that interest, Haidar said Kinaltek is currently negotiating a “significant” private investment to expand the technology to commercial production, which would allow the company to manufacture and commercialize its technology to deliver battery-grade silicon-carbon composites and other nanosilicon products. fields.
“With sufficient government support and market traction, Kinaltek hopes to maintain a base in Australia,” he said.