Australian innovator Altech Chemicals Ltd. announced earlier this week the successful application of alumina nano particles on silicon particles using proprietary technology developed for use on anodes in lithium-ion batteries.
The firm points out that this follows an announcement late last year that it had been successful in coating graphite particles with a similar layer of alumina nano particles, which also strongly lends itself to applications within lithum-ion batteries.
As silicon has proven to be substantially better at storing large amounts of electricity, much study has gone into making batteries (specifically for use in electric vehicles) using the element. However, the phenomenon of particle volume expansion and “first cycle lithium loss” has made it implausible up to now.
Altech carried out experiments on silicon samples provided by Silico Ferrosolar, which is a subsidiary of the Ferroglobe Group. Altech was able to apply a uniform and consistent layer of alumina on the outer edge of silicon particles, which encapsulates the particles and eliminates the problems described above.
Altech’s general manager operations and chief scientist Dr. Jingyuan Liu noted the significant step that this test represents for the firm in a related press release.
“We are very encouraged by the excellent coating results achieved from the application of our technology, it has the potential to significantly increase the use of silicon in lithium-ion battery anode and consequently the potential to increase battery energy density, overall performance and longevity. The next step is to further optimise the coating process.”
Altech Chemicals is based in Subiaco, Western Australia and is attempting to implement a marketable process for delivering 99.99% (4N) HPA using conventional equipment at a lower production cost than methods currently available. It plans to construct a 4,500 metric ton per annum HPA plant at Tanjung Langsat Industrial Complex, Johor, Malaysia that will use kaolin clay from a company-owned mine in Meckering, Western Australia. The firm is fast-tracking HPA production due to an agreement with Mitsubishi for 100% of its proposed HPA production for ten years.