Research network on electrochemical energy storage,
Research center on batteries and supercapacitors

Silicon from solar panels reused as Li-ion anode material?

A French-Canadian team (including researchers from the “Institut des Matériaux Jean Rouxel” from Nantes, a member of the RS2E network) proposes a new technique to reuse the silicon from out-of-use solar panels as electrode material.

To achieve this goal the researchers ground the recovered silicon before adding carbon to the resulting micrometric powder. The mixture is then used to make a negative electrode. According to the study, this technique is a 100 times less expensive than directly creating such micrometric silicon particles. The properties displayed by the silicon-based electrodes are also encouraging since they could sustain up to 900 cycles of charges/discharges.

However, barriers still remain. Even if these electrodes allow the storage of 10 times more electrons than graphite electrodes do, they suffer from a significant volume variation during its use leading to a more fragile structure. Researchers are already working on alternatives to eschew this issue such as applying cupper foam to the electrode surface.