ULiège takes part in the RESiLEX project on silicon value chain management in Europe
The University of Liege (ULiège) - through its laboratories GREENMat and GeMMe - announces its participation in the RESiLEX project (Resilient Enhancement for the Silicon Industry Leveraging the European Matrix) launched in June 2022. A project funded by the European Union's Horizon Europe program that aims to improve the resilience and sustainability of the entire Silicon value chain in Europe.
A €12,5 million grant was awarded by the European Commission (EC) to improve the resilience and sustainability of the full Silicon value chain in Europe. The RESiLEX project is being developed under the leadership of the Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster (ISMC) by a consortium of 21 partners from 8 European countries (including Switzerland and UK), including research organizations, SMEs, universities and associations*. RESiLEX project activities will be carried out over a 4-year time frame to end in June 2026.
ULiège will participate in the RESiLEX project through two research entities : GeMMe (Georesources, Minerals Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy) and GREEnMat (Group of Research in Energy and Environment from Materials)
- GeMMe (School of Engineering / UEE research unit)contributes to the development of innovative processes for the efficient management of mineral and metallic resources while providing unparalleled upscaling experience in urban ore characterization and processing (with a focus on innovative sorting techniques and hydrometallurgy) derived from a long research tradition in primary ores mining and processing. In the RESiLEX project, GeMMe will be mostly involved in the recycling process of Si and Ag from solar panels.
- GREEnMat (Faculty of Science / CESAM research unit) laboratory is specialized in the powder synthesis up to pilot scale, recycling of materials and devices (example: solar panels – e.g. SOLARCYCLE project) to produce nano-/micro-sized tailored powders (oxides, alloys, metals, hybrids, ...). GREEnMat has also high expertise in electrode or electrolyte materials, the development of formulations (suspensions and/or slurries) for the processing of layers to be assembled into batteries (from coin to pouch cells). In the RESiLEX project, GREEnMat will aim at using high quality recovered Silicon obtained from recycled PV modules as a source for manufacturing silicon-carbon composite powders (Si/C) to produce single layer Li-Si pouch cells.
RESiLEX aims to develop technological solutions for reusing Silicon, recycling PV modules and designing new products. In particular, it will identify pathways to reduce the environmental impact of the whole Silicon Value Chain. Silicon is one of the few critical raw materials used in most of the strategic renewable energy applications: improving its value chain is of major importance for the EU’s resilience, as this material is used in several key sectors, from batteries to PV & ICT, and it’s not easily reusable without serious loss of end performance or increase of cost.
The core activity of RESiLEX is to strengthen each part of the Silicon value chain, through the technological improvement of all its processes, from the extraction and transformation of the raw material up to the optimization and recycling of PV modules, and the reuse of Silicon for Li-ion Batteries.
The scientific and technical work of RESiLEX covers the full value chain of Silicon. The project activities will demonstrate 8 industry-driven innovative solutions, aiming at sustainable and resilient critical raw material value chains in Europe. Each activity has a dedicated demonstration pilot, reaching TRL 6-7.
Such activities include :
- Recovery of valuable and critical raw materials (CRM) in the mining industry
This activity focuses on the mineral extraction industry, with the aim of developing and validating innovative solutions focused on the recovery of critical raw materials from wastes generated within this field, such as cobalt or antimony.
- Sustainable silicon production
Focusing on the first steps of the Silicon value chain, the activity’s main objective is the demonstration and development of a carbon-free sustainable process for producing Silicon and Silicon alloys suitable for solar applications.
- Sustainable, eco-designed solar cells & modules
Improving the eco-design and sustainability of Silicon-based solar cells and modules, developing and demonstrating several aspects, such as CRM-free solar cells and Silicon wafers from revalorized Silicon wastes.
- Silicon recycling from PV modules
Development of innovative methods for recycling end-of-life PV panels, by extracting and reusing Silicon and other materials used for their construction. Here, the main aim is the one of reducing the EU’s demand for primary materials and hence lessening its reliance on imported CRM.
- Development of high-efficiency Si composite for Li-ion batteries
Recovered Silicon obtained during the previous activity will be employed to replace graphite anode in Li-ion batteries by high-energy density Silicon-carbon composite anodes.
* ISMC, Fundacion Icamcyl, Cetaqua, Brunel University London,Tharsis, Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet Ntnu, Nanopow AS, CSEM, CNRS, Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble, Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, COMET Traitements, RECMA, Envie2E Occitanie, Cleancarb Sarl, Université de Liège, Universiteit Gent, ETA Florence Renewable Energies, Epia Solarpower Europe, Association Tenerrdis, Efund Group.
This project has received the funding of the Horizon Europe Program under grant agreement No. 101058583.