A New Orleans start-up hopes to help battery makers increase battery capacity by mass-producing silicon nanoparticles using conventional manufacturing technology. Currently, silicon is the most promising alternative to graphite in lithium-ion batteries. Although silicon is readily available and can increase battery capacity by 10 times, it expands by binding to lithium during charging to form an alloy called lithium silicone, which is 3-4 times the initial volume.
This would greatly reduce the safety of using silicon anode batteries, but some start-ups are looking for ways to solve this problem, including using graphene or using brush-shaped anode-shrouded silicon made of silicon nanowires that safely expand the diameter. In any case, there will be a high demand for silicon nanoparticles over the next decade.
A new Start-up in New Orleans, Advano, doesn’t want to figure out which approach is best, but wants to scale as quickly as possible through a top-down approach. Advano’s plan is to grind large pieces of material, mainly from solar panels to reuse silicon until it gets good enough nanoparticles.
The company says it can now produce one ton of silicon nanoparticles a year and will put a new plant into operation to increase production of silicon nanoparticles. As Advano expands the new process, battery makers can add different amounts of silicon nanoparticles to increase battery capacity, which is exactly what Tesla is doing. The final price per kilogram of silicon nanoparticles will be reduced from $500-10,000 to between $15 and $150 per kilogram.