Altech Chemicals looks set to stamp its mark on lithium battery technology continuing the development of a revolutionary high purity alumina coating for use in anode production. The coating shows the potential to extend the life of lithium-ion batteries, increase their overall capacity and enhance their chargeability. The company is developing the technology to incorporate into its product stream for manufacture from its HPA plant currently under construction in Malaysia.
Altech Chemicals looks set to stamp its mark on lithium battery technology continuing the development of a revolutionary high purity alumina coating for use in anode production. This coating shows the potential to extend the life of lithium-ion batteries, increase their overall capacity and enhance their chargeability.
High purity alumina, or “HPA” is a high-value, high-margin product that has a variety of uses including the manufacture of synthetic sapphire for use in LED lighting, glass and semiconductors. However, the greatest commercial potential for HPA may be in its application across an increasing variety of evolving technologies of lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicles.
Altech is now in the final stages of development of a HPA coating for specific use in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries. The product has been developed in response to emerging manufacturing trends in Europe.
HPA is commonly utilised as a coating on the separator sheets within lithium-ion batteries as it helps improve battery performance, durability and safety. Recent studies by a number of groups, including the world-renown Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Institute in Germany, shows that utilising HPA coated graphite particles within the battery anode can increase both the performance and life expectancy of the battery.
Typically, a lithium-ion battery loses around 8 per cent of its performance in the first charging cycle due to a chemical reaction between the graphite and active metal components of the cathode that results in lithium-ions being lost into the battery’s anode. Altech’s research and development team, led by Dr Jingyuan Liu, have developed a process that coats the graphite particles in the anode with a very thin layer of HPA, preventing this “first cycle capacity loss”.
Altech’s HPA coating technology is now undergoing university and laboratory verification, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The company has a patent on the product which is currently pending approval. Altech expects the potential end-user trials of the revolutionary coating will commence in early 2021 and lead to commercialisation of the product.
“We have the potential to take lithium-ion battery performance to the next stage with the use of Altech’s alumina coating product and technology. Commercialising the process would represent a significant step in lithium-ion battery anode evolution.”
Altech’s new product will be designated Anode Grade APC01 and ALC01 and is expected to improve overall battery efficiency, cycling stability, high-rate performance and fast-charging capability - all highly desirable attributes in the evolving lithium-ion battery space.
The company said it intends to continue to develop specialised applications for its HPA products to be manufactured from its high-tech plant in Malaysia.
Altech is currently transitioning from developer to producer and is aiming to become one of the world’s leading suppliers of 99.99 per cent 4N HPA via the construction of a processing plant in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The plant will use feedstock from the company’s kaolin deposit at Meckering, Western Australia.
The company’s US$280 million-dollar plant in Malaysia is already fully funded, via a US$190 million loan facility with German KfW-IPEX bank and mezzanine finance with Macquarie Bank. The production facility is being constructed by German SMS group, which has provided a ‘turn-key’ contract for the plant, with the Stage 1 and 2 early work programs already complete.
Altech looks to be sitting pretty as it continues to develop its technologies and processes in the emerging HPA space. The company is carving out a strategic position in this emerging technology mineral and with a solid offtake in place with Mitsubishi Australia, the company is poised to take advantage of the burgeoning HPA market as it moves towards production in the coming years.
Is your ASX listed company doing something interesting? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org