HPQ Silicon partners with the french start-up Novacium

by Team HPQ

The partnership aims to strengthen HPQ’s innovation capabilities in new materials and processes critical to renewable energy.

MONTREAL, Canada — HPQ Silicon Inc. (“HPQ” or the “Company”) (TSX-V: HPQ) (OTCQX: HPQFF) (FRA: O08), an innovative silicon solutions and technology development company, informs shareholders that it has partnered with three leading French research engineers to create Novacium, a “jeune entreprise innovante (J.E.I)” based in Lyon, France.

Novacium’s three founding research engineers, Jed KRAIEM Ph.D., Oleksiy NICHIPORUK Ph.D., and Julien DEGOULANGE Ph.D. have over 50 years of combined experience in developing innovative processes for renewable energy; this includes hydrogen production via hydrolysis, photovoltaic processes, as well as materials for batteries and energy storage. In addition, the team has world-renowned expertise in producing and purifying Silicon.

Novacium’s Chief Operating Officer (“COO”), Mr. Jed KRAIEM, received his Ph.D. from the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon in 2005; he then worked for the CNRS and FerroPEM (now Ferroglobe) as Valorization engineer in order to develop an innovative process for crystallization and purifying Silicon for Photovoltaics. He was subsequently approached by Apollon Solar SAS, a French start-up, which recruited him to become the Innovation Director and later promoted him to General Manager, a position he held until recently.

Novacium’s Chief Technical Officer (“CTO”), Mr. Oleksiy NICHIPORUK, earned his Ph.D. from the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon in 2005; he then joined PHOTOWATT, the leading French producer of solar cells and panels, as an R&D engineer to work on continuous process improvement. In 2012, he joined the team at Apollon Solar as R&D engineer and was soon promoted to CTO due to his extensive expertise, a position he held until recently.

Novacium’s Chief Innovation Officer (“CIO”), Mr. Julien DEGOULANGE, obtained his Ph.D. from the Polytechnic Institute in Grenoble in 2008 (his thesis was on purifying Si Metallurgy via plasma), he then spent a year working for NNTNU/SINTEF in Norway on Silicon crystallization as a postdoc. He went on to joint Apollon Solar in 2010 as an R&D engineer and was later promoted to Head of the Silicon Business, a position he held until recently.

With offices and a laboratory on the AXEL’ONE site in the Lyon region of France, Novacium is already operational and can immediately begin its collaboration with HPQ, focused on the following three areas:

1) R&D assistance and collaboration on HPQ’s processes (PUREVAP™ QRR and NSiR):
a. Supporting, optimizing and sharing knowledge and know-how, etc.
2) Collaborating on R&D to develop innovative processes that may be complementary to HPQ’s processes in the following niche sectors:
a. Manufacturing silicon or SiOx particles for battery applications.
b. Manufacturing carbon particles for super-capacitor applications
c. Manufacturing silicon-based particles for battery and hydrogen applications, etc.
3) Capitalizing on their own knowledge and know-how, the technical team has several innovative concepts in the hydrogen sector and intend to develop two innovative processes.

Mr. Jed KRAIEM Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer of Novacium said, “This partnership with HPQ is very exciting and very strategic given our positioning. Today, everyone has understood that Silicon is a critical, highly import and extremely strategic material. It is everywhere! Including in semiconductors, photovoltaic panels, lithium batteries, biomedical, etc., all of which are key fields. Moreover, having a partner that is capable of supplying us directly with silicon or exploiting the technologies that we intend to develop guarantees both our security of supply and our success in quickly being able to commercialize them on the market.”

“Having first-hand experience of their silicon skills at Apollon Solar, we are extremely pleased to have been able to formalize a partnership with Messrs KRAIEM, NICHIPORUK and DEGOULANGE via Novacium. This partnership comes at a pivotal moment for HPQ. Without a dedicated technical team within HPQ, this could have limited our ability to exploit the opportunities available to us with the imminent start of our GEN3 PUREVAP™ pilot plant,” said Mr. Bernard Tourillon, Chief Executive Officer of HPQ Silicium. “Furthermore, having a research & development center in Lyon, France, opens up new opportunities for cooperation within Europe, a region which, unlike Quebec, Canada and the United States, has formally recognized that silicon is a critical, highly important and extremely strategic material.”

Novacium is a “jeune entreprise innovante (J.E.I)” based in Lyon, France. It is the result of a partnership between three of France’s leading research engineers, who wanted to start a new Research and Development company to develop their own technology in high added value fields connected to renewable energy, and HPQ Silicon Inc, a Canadian company, which wanted to find a technical team capable of helping it develop its silicon and new renewable energy projects.

Achievements of the founding research engineers

While working at Apollon Solar, the three research engineers were responsible for the PHOTOSIL-ISOPEM project, the largest research project on silicon photovoltaics in France, with a budget of around €45m. In 2020, as part of the project, they were the first in the world to demonstrate that it was possible to obtain a crystal silicon ingot from metallurgically purified silicon. The following year, they went even further by teaming up with the German company, Roth & Rau to demonstrate that a very high conversion efficiency could be achieved and set a world efficiency record of 19% (‘World Class Solar Efficiency On N-Type Cz UMG Silicon Wafers By Heterojunction Technology’). Even today, this silicon is the subject of a collaborative research project with the prestigious University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and the current efficiency record stands at over 22%.

In parallel to their work in the Photovoltaic sector, the team also launched a very innovative project within Apollon Solar to produce Hydrogen from silicon and aluminum powders. This project, which was of considerable interest to the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), was financed within the framework of a RAPID to develop a portable Hydrogen reactor to power a system called TREKHY, which contains a fuel cell developed by the start-up Pragma-Industries. TREKHY is currently being tested by the French Special Forces and the DGA. Finally, they have written several books in the field of Silicon Photovoltaics, dozens of scientific articles and patents and their expertise is in high demand from various public bodies (ADEME, European Commission, BPI, etc.).

About Axel’One
Based in the region of Lyon, the collaborative innovation platform Axel’One hosts and supports collaborative R&D projects as well as VSEs/SMEs in the chemical-environmental sector. The Axel’One collaborative platform was established in June 2011 with 10 founding members, including academic institutions (CPE Lyon, ENS Lyon, INSA Lyon and Université Lyon 1), public institutions (CNRS, IFP Energies nouvelles) and industrial companies (Adisseo, Elkem, Solvay and SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT).

Axel’One has three sites in the Lyon area: PMI (Innovative Materials Platform) in Saint-Fons, PPI (Innovative Processes Platform) in Solaize and Campus (Fundamental Research Platform) in LyonTech-la Doua and collaborates with 3 competitiveness clusters: Axelera (chemistry-environment in Lyon); Polymeris (Rubber, plastics and composite) and Techtera (textiles and flexible materials in Lyon).

Axel’One currently hosts more than 80 collaborative projects, 20 start-up and SMEs and 5 technology platforms of shared tools and skills in industrial analysis, industrial catalysis, digital simulation, polymer processing and materials characterization.

HPQ Silicon is a Quebec-based TSX Venture Exchange Tier 1 Industrial Issuer. With the support of world-class technology partners PyroGenesis Canada and NOVACIUM SAS, the company is developing new green processes crucial to make the critical materials needed to reach net zero emissions.