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KKU Scientists Develop Nano-Materials from Rice Husks

Image Credits: KKU, Press Release

Khon Kaen University met the press to release news on the research on nano-material production from rice husk as a new-era battery innovation. The research is under the Pilot Factory Project that produces materials for electrodes in Li-ion batteries.

The President of KKU led the research team including its Project Leader to present the project implementation and the research outcome. Over 50 news reporters and interested individuals attended.

KKU’s President, who chaired the press meeting session, welcomed the guests and the news reporters before explaining about the Pilot Factory Project that produces materials for electrodes in Lithium-ion batteries from rice husk.

He noted that the three involved parties have strong determination for the Project. The two companies supported in terms of budget, equipment and tools for the implementation, which were carried out at the Northeast Science Park. Khon Kaen University asked Assoc. Prof. Nongluck Meethong, PhD, a professor from the Faculty of Science led the research team which includes researchers of KKU.

The team conducted experiments and developed technology for manufacturing the materials for making electrodes for batteries from rice husks. The major achievement is that they registered the outcomes as the University’s intellectual properties. There are three of these registered, including the equipment, the production process and the nano-material from husks.

The pilot products are nano-silica, nano-silicon, material for making anodes, and the prototype battery cell of the Li-ion type. There are the topics to be discussed with two companies for an extension at a commercial level in the future.

The General Director of one of the companies (R.P.C.G Public Company) explained about the collaboration in the Lithium-ion battery production market of the world and the research that has been taking place at a broad scale. The reason for the enthusiastic efforts is that Lithium-ion is seen as the future of the industrial system of the country. It will enable Thailand to acquire a place in the electric vehicle industry of the world. The industry is difficult but challenging. There are also plans to drive forward the manufacturing of other various kinds of businesses.

Meanwhile, the project head and representative of the research team said that the project firstly used rice, cassava and sugar cane which are farm products and major cash crops of the country as the raw materials as these crops have high silica contents.

The silicon thus produced was then made into several products for commercial use such as cosmetics, medical supplies, batteries, electronics cycle, solar cells. The research team believes that nano-materials from husk should solve the problem of electricity-based industry, which can be EVs or batteries because when compared to the old-type batteries, the Li-ion batteries have higher capacitance, are safer, and can be charged quickly. Moreover, the nano-material from the husk can also be applied to other items.

The Project Lead stated that, from her perspective, husk contains silica that can be made into silicon that in turn can be used in batteries’ electrodes with quality.

She stated that the team knows this is viable but it depends on the scale that will enable testing in real equipment. This is the objective of the project. The team started from the pilot factory and the scale has been enlarged.

She also added that, at present, Isan people earn a relatively low income, particularly farmers. Therefore, they think that farmers can sell the husk that can be used as the input material for heavy industry. It will then build the chances and quality of life of people in the area.

The research and development of nano-material from the husk is the Project that continues from 2017 with the collaboration of three organizations; all saw the chances from using husk to produce nano-materials. The work has now led to the production of a new type of battery that can be used in various industries and will be an answer to the problem of world energy now and in the future.

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