Elkem given US$1.8m grant to pursue carbon-free silicon production, aims to license to other manufacturers

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Elkem believe the development of carbon-free silicon could be a ‘game changer’ for the industry. Image: Gresch

Elkem has been given NOK16 million (US$1.78 million) from the Research Council of Norway to develop a silicon manufacturing process that eliminates all direct CO2 emissions associated with its production.

Silicon-based materials company Elkem believes the process may become a “game changer” for the global silicon industry. The production of silicon is a highly energy intensive process and a major cause of CO2 emissions in the solar industry.

The project will run from 2022-2024. Elkem will be the project owner and Aasgeir Valderhaug is project manager. The Norwegian R&D institutes SINTEF and NORCE, and the pilot test centre Future Materials, will be research partners.

“Elkem’s goal with this project is to develop a concept that eliminates all direct CO2 emissions from silicon production. Carbon oxides in the off-gas from the smelting furnaces will be captured, converted to solid carbon, and reused in the process,” said Elkem’s senior vice president for technology Håvard Moe.

“We believe that this is a strong candidate to become a main technology for carbon neutral silicon production beyond 2050.”

Moe said the development of the concept is a “prioritised task in Elkem’s long term climate strategy” and that the company may “licence the technology to other manufacturers” to help them reduce their emissions from production.

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