Silicon powder finds use. Image credit: wikimedia commons.
In this regard, a group of researchers at Osaka University is using silicon nanopowder to manufacture battery electrodes with greater area and current density, using as raw material silicon chips, a material considered an industrial waste generated by cutting silicon ingots used in the manufacture of solar cells, and of which about 100,000 tons are generated each year worldwide. The results of the research were recently presented in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.
Recently, battery electrodes combining carbon and silicon nanomaterials have been developed to improve electrical conductivity, since silicon has proved to be an active material with high capacity, and it has also been reported that silicon nanopowder moderates the degradation of cell performance, the problem is that the electrodes produced has not filled the requirements for mass production, such as low cost, high performance and environmental friendliness.
But thanks to the fixed abrasive grain wire saws opened the possibility to use silicon chips as anode active material at a lower cost, since it is a waste material. For the study, silicon chips generated during the slicing of silicon ingots used for the manufacture of solar cells were used as starting material by using fixed abrasive machining technology with water-based coolant.
Representation of silicon swarf production. Image made by @emiliomoron in powerpoint.
The silicon nanopowder was dispersed and wrapped between ultrathin sheets of expanded graphite. The graphite sheets closely contacted with the silicon nanopowder and improved the conductivity and electrical density of the electrode, and suppressed the detachment and cracking of the electrodes.
Representation of the fabrication of Si electrodes with graphite sheets. Image made by @emiliomoron in powerpoint.
Therefore, these electrodes showed great potential for developing high capacity and current density batteries, something highly desirable for their application in electric vehicles. And not only that, thanks to the increasing generation of silicon chips as industrial waste, the development of this type of electrodes can be sustainable and would contribute to reduce this waste.
Let us hope that the development of batteries follows this trend, and that through sustainable and environmentally friendly processes they can provide us with the means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by having better electric vehicles and high-capacity energy storage systems.
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