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Carbon coated Silicon Production Scaling Up for Li-ion batteries

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DEBIMAX (Carbon coated Silicon Production Scaling Up for Li-ion batteries)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-02-28

The booming need for batteries and higher storage capacities are well identified challenges. Increase production capacities can meet the higher demand but improved storage capacities require innovation and new battery materials. The critical application for better capacities is the automotive electric vehicles market for which the vehicle range is a key drag on market growth.
Nanomakers’ solution is to supply a new material for batteries anodes. This high-quality material is already available for niche market (portable electronics) and can be used to triple battery anodes capacities. To address automotive mass market, this product has also to be cheap and available at large scale, both of which are the main object of this project. This will be done by increasing Nanomakers’ production capacity fourfold per reactor.
Nanomakers is a french R&D company, spin-off from CEA which is producing and selling at industrial scale Si and Sic nanoparticles made by laser pyrolysis, a patented technology developed at CEA.
In 2012, the company patented a new product: carbon coated silicon (SiwC) as anode active material for li-ion batteries. This material triples the anodes capacity and will partly replace natural graphite which a critical raw material currently used in batteries.
With a compound annual growth rate of around 20%, Li-ion battery market will be even more significant in the years to come. This growth will be first driven by portable electronics and then by automotive industry where battery price must be competitive. Nanomakers has a long experience and feed-back form customers that helped optimizing its product (size, coating, …). Since 2013, Nanomakers has been providing most of the battery actors, especially in Asia. So, Nanomakers wants to set up DEBIMAX project to meet the large capacity demand and reduces the production costs for portable electronics and automotive industry.
During the first period, the new production line has been designed to increase Nanomakers production capacity by line per three. DEBIMAX production line was designed by computer aided design (CAD) and new concept were evaluated to increase the production rate and the overall equipment effectiveness. Several main studies have been made:
- Tests on pilot line to increase reaction yield, production rate and laser consumption to update production rate hypothesis and reduce risks
- Complete redesign of line automation and powder filtration to switch from a batch process to a continuous process
- Redesign and test of powder pipeline
- Validation of new valve with longer lifetime
- Test and implementation of Clean in Place solution
Nanomakers has demonstrated the feasibility of multiplying by 5 times its annual nanoparticles production i.e. 50 tons/year/line. This addresses the need of mass market volumes, especially for electric vehicles batteries and semiconductor industry.
Nanomakers produces at large scale high performance silicon-based nanoparticles. The nano silicon NMSiΩC99 is used to increase the Li-ion batteries anodes capacity. The nano silicon carbide NMSiC99 enables various materials strengthening or the manufacturing of bulk parts without metallic contamination for semiconductor industry.
Powder collectors before (left) and thanks to Debimax (right)