SiNoCO2 – Silicon production with no CO2 emission

The project name SiNoCO2 reveals the goal of the project. We will do research on possible methods for producing silicon alloys with no direct CO2 emissions from the production furnaces. Very simplified, this means that we are going to "close the silicon furnace".  We will then get an off gas from the furnace that mainly contains CO, which can be further exploited for energy production or chemical manufacturing such as hydrogen production.

Partners: NTNU - Department of Material Science and Engineering; Sintef Materials and Chemistry; Teknova AS.
Funding period: 2017-2020
Main goal: to develop a significantly more energy-efficient concept for production of silicon alloys with no direct CO2 emissions.

The SiNoCO2 project will develop a new concept for Si alloy production by "closing" the furnace hood, ensuring that no air comes into the process. This will enable direct use of CO from the process off gas, no oxidation of carbon raw materials at the furnace top, and more efficient energy recovery due to the reduced flow rate of off gas.

The biggest challenge for "closing the furnace" is to find out how we can control the material flow, the energy distribution and the chemical reactions inside the furnace. We need to develop a "stoking free" process, alternatively a form of automatic stoking of the furnace, and in addition, we need to operate the furnace without the possibility of direct observations of the furnace surface.  

We will also examine whether it is possible to operate a furnace at 100% silicon yield. By this, we mean that all silicon in the quartz raw materials is tapped as liquid silicon from the furnace, and that we do not have any emission of SiO gas from the furnace top. What are the obstacles preventing us from operating at 100% silicon yield? Can we modify the furnace design in a way that makes this possible?

The projects is divided into three work packages:

1. Study of how the present furnace technology can be closed by solving process obstacles in the production process and controlling the novel off gas conditions.

2. Investigation on how 100% Si yield can be achieved with the present production concept by application of engineered raw materials and minor process modifications. A PhD study will be part of this work.

3. Industrial verification of the R&D results by developing an integrated process design for FeSi/Si alloy production utilizing the CO gas, maximizing the overall energy and material efficiency and reducing the off gas emissions.

Elkem AS, Technology is the project owner and project manager. SINTEF, NTNU and Teknova AS are research partners in the project, and the project will include a PhD candidate and several MSc candidates. Elkem AS’s divisions producing silicon alloys, Foundry Products and Silicon Materials, will be industry partners in the project.

One PhD study and one or more MSc work will be conducted at NTNU as part of the project.

The project 299431 SiNoCO2 is an IPN project financed by the EnergiX program by The Research Council of Norway.