Scientists at Sevastopol State University Propose to Synthesize Nanosilicon from Mining Waste

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Scientists at Sevastopol State University propose to synthesize nanosilicon from clay dumps (quarries), of which around two hundred exist in Crimea.

“The essence of the technology is that we use raw materials from quarry waste. Heaps that are formed during mining remain on the surface and they must be disposed of, but this rarely happens. With our technology, we use this waste material as a raw material”, said Vladislav Turyansky, a fourth-year student of the Ecology and Nature Management educational programme at Sevastopol State University.

Scientists first conducted a series of experiments to confirm their hypotheses empirically and then synthesized submicron and nanomicron silicon.

“We have studied how to obtain silicon dioxide. I suggested that the waste from the Bakhchisaray quarry can be used as raw material. We tested the assumption empirically. They took the raw materials, conducted an analysis of the silicon content in the sample, and everything was confirmed. Then we started to experiment”, said Vladislav.

Nanosilicon is used in various industries from rocket science to pharmaceuticals.

“It is used in the food industry as a food additive, and in the manufacture of rubber, it is added to concrete and glass. Nanosilicon is also used in medicine as it can pass through small pores and deliver drugs. Nanosilicon is used as a thickener, it can be used to turn liquids into powder, and water supplies in powder form are easier to transport”, said Vladislav.

Scientists believe that the development is interesting both economically and ecologically.

“This is a real commercial product that has its own market. The most interesting thing is that almost all of the silicon dioxide that is used in Russia is imported from France, Germany and other countries. But we can get the same product from waste”, said Vladimir Gavrish, Director of the Promising Technologies and Materials Research and Education Center.

Technical and economic data allow scientists to judge that the cost of a kilogram of silicon dioxide produced in laboratory conditions is about 300 rubles. In industrial production, the cost of the product will significantly decrease, while the cheapest foreign counterpart costs 450-500 rubles per kilogram.

While at the present time this is a laboratory development, the next step is scaling it up into pilot production.