PCC manufactures the key starting material for nano-silicon particles with 100 % green electricity sourced within Europe.

Duisburg (Germany), December 22, 2021. Duisburg-based investment holding company PCC SE and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have joined forces to develop a silicon-carbon composite material designed to increase the performance of lithium-ion batteries. Silicon offers ten times the energy density of the graphite conventionally used as the anode active material in the associated cells. It therefore substantially increases the capacity of lithium-ion batteries, facilitating significantly longer travel ranges and shorter charging times in electric cars, for example. The two cooperation partners plan to bring the novel high-tech material to market as a drop-in solution for use in the production of battery cells.

Yesterday, Tuesday, PCC SE and Fraunhofer ISE signed agreements covering a long-term joint research and development program for a silicon-carbon composite material to be used as an anode active material in lithium-ion batteries. The two partners are to use silicon as the start- ing material in their cooperation project, a material produced with high sustainability and climate compatibility by PCC’s Icelandic subsidiary PCC BakkiSilicon hf. using 100 percent green electricity from geothermal energy. The silicon metal is to be further processed by PCC into powder down to nanometer fineness and then integrated within a silicon-carbon composite using technology developed by Fraunhofer ISE.

“Our silicon metal manufacturing operation in Iceland was designed from the outset to be climate-friendly through the exclusive use of green electricity,” explains Dr Peter Wenzel, CEO of PCC SE. “This new field of application for our silicon metal, aligned to enhancing the performance of lithium-ion batteries – particularly in electric cars – therefore provides a perfect fit. By working together with Fraunhofer ISE with all its strengths, we can thus further extend our contribution to climate protection. This takes us another step forward in our strategy to further develop our portfolio of key solutions with sustainable products that help address the challenges facing our society in the coming decades.”

The innovative high-tech material has already been under development in line with requirements emanating from the automotive industry. The active material is designed in such a way that it can be used successively in existing cell production lines as a drop-in replacement for the graphite used as the standard anode material. The higher energy density of the silicon-carbon material also ensures lower specific production costs. The two partners in this cooperation project, PCC SE and Fraunhofer ISE, have expressed their intent to take the solution to full market maturity within a short timeframe.

Aside from the exceptionally favorable carbon footprint of the production process, the nano-silicon particles produced by PCC also offer the advantage of being exclusively European in origin. The silicon metal plant of PCC BakkiSilicon hf. is located in Iceland, whereas China has around 71 percent of the world‘s graphite reserves. A closed-loop supply chain within Europe is also planned for the further processing stages from nano-particle production to final silicon-carbon material, thus offering future customers a secure and sustainable source of supply close to the rapidly developing European battery industry.