Recovery of nano-structured silicon from end-of-life photovoltaic wafers with value-added applications in lithium-ion battery

Nicolas Eshraghi, Loris Berardo, Audrey Schrijnemakers, Vincent Delaval, Mahdokht Shaibani, Mainak Majumder, Rudi Cloots, Bénédicte Vertruyen, Frédéric Boschini, Abdelfattah Mahmoud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Millions of residential and industrial solar panels installed in the late 1980s and early 1990s are approaching the end of their life, resulting in the drastic accumulation of a potential source of environmental pollution - given the presence of hazardous materials, such as lead. The foreseen crisis, however, can be turned into a great opportunity by value-added recovery of precious solar-grade silicon (Si) to the highly desired nanostructured silicon for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Herein, we demonstrate a potential end-of-life management option for photovoltaic (PV) panels, representing a step toward producing greener and more energy-efficient Si for batteries. We show that leaching the recovered silicon wafers in critically tuned alkali-acid leaching baths effectively removes the major impurities: lead (Pb), silver (Ag), and aluminum (Al). The ultrapure Si is then nanosized via industrially scalable milling routes to meet the requirements of expansion-tolerant Si anodes for LIBs delivering capacities as high as 1400 mAh g-1

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5868-5879
Number of pages12
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2020


  • Ball milling
  • Photovoltaic panel
  • Recovery
  • Recycling
  • Silicon anode
  • Sustainable

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