Altech’s breakthrough in silicon battery technology

Advanced materials company Altech Chemicals has succeeded in applying a nano layer coating of alumina to silicon particles typical of particles used to manufacture anodes of lithium-ion batteries.

This follows the successful application of the coating to graphite particles, also used in battery manufacture.

The Perth company, which mines at Meckering in Western Australia and is constructing a high purity alumina (HPA) plant in Malaysia, believes the process is a breakthrough in developing anodes with a high silicon content.

Recently electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla said it wanted to increase the ammount of silicon in batteries to improve energy-density and battery life.

Altech general manager Dr Jingyuan Liu said: “We are very encouraged by the excellent coating results achieved from the application of our technology.

“…The next step is to further optimise the coating process.”

Silicon has significant advantages over graphite in battery anodes as it has ten times the theoretical energy capacity.

However a drawback is particle volume expansion when energised, with Altech believing the alumina coating could resolve the issue and be a ‘game-changer’.

In the tests Altech used silicon provided by a partner, Silico Ferrosolar, and employed its own alumina coating technology.

Altech has received finance to construct a 4,500tpa high purity alumina (HPA) processing plant at Johor, Malaysia.

HPA is a high-value, high margin and highly demanded product as it is the critical ingredient required for the production of synthetic sapphire.

Picture: Altech Chemicals

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