Greener Silica from Rice


I’ll be honest, the answers been staring
us in the face for fifteen years and we missed it. I’m really excited that it
finally occurred to us as opposed to somebody else. All over the world, in
every part of our lives, we have silica in many forms: the toothpaste that you
use, electronics, I’ve seen it added to hamburger to make hamburger flow better, fiber optics, if you want your tire to run longer and not fall apart then they add silica to keep it
cooler. They use it to polish silicon wafers to make them very flat and that’s a tens of thousands of tons a year process.
But they all are built on the use of silicon metal, that’s done by taking
silica with carbon and treating it in an electric arc furnace at three thousand
degrees Fahrenheit. By producing silica that way you also of course reduce
carbon dioxide. It’s a very expensive process, obviously it would be nice if you
could figure out how to use other forms of silica to produce silicon containing
compounds without ever having to go to three thousand degrees. We decided, gosh, why
don’t we try using anti-freeze and it worked! You can dissolve silica in antifreeze with
a little bit of base which we can recycle and then after we dissolve it
with the antifreeze, we replaced the anti- freeze with ethanol that allows us to
distill it to a high purity. 99.9999% purity, so it can be used anywhere. Now we can use
not only sand but Ag-waste in the form of rice hull ash. The rice plant takes silica
out of the ground and it puts it in the husk and it puts it in the stock to
reinforce them to make them stronger. Plants don’t pick up heavy metals so the
silica that’s contained in any plant is relatively pure. A group of people have
learned to burn their rice hulls for their fuel value. The byproduct is a silica
rich ash. Everywhere that they produce rice they produce rice hull ash. That
material is often landfilled, we’re taking it away from being a negative to being a value-added product. It’s
a straightforward way to turn somebody else’s straw into gold, if you will. Our goal, at this moment, is to scale to
50 kilos of distilled silica a month. The main obstacle is designing
large-scale equipment, that’s the next step. We got it patented, we’re dropping thousands of
degrees in temper ature, we’re taking a waste product out of the environment: we save
six tons of co2 per ton of product. It’s green and everybody will want to say
green science and green chemistry is incorporated in our product. The solar industry is very, very focused
on improving efficiency and reducing the costs. Our attempt here with this
research is to propose a new way of looking at these structures…

7 thoughts on “Greener Silica from Rice

  1. The amount of carbon dioxide produced from the silicon making process is negligible and insignificant. More carbon dioxide is evaporated from dry ice than produced in the silicon making process. Not to mention the single biggest producer of carbon dioxide is mother nature anyway.

  2. May i know at what temperature and time that suitable to produce silica crystaline??maybe u can share a link to refer some journal paper..tq

  3. Please let me know on how to produce nanosilica by using simple experiment and method with rice husk as raw material

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