ASX-listed high purity alumina hopeful, Altech Chemicals, has linked up with an international silicon powder supplier to collaborate on the development of a long-life silicon anode active material targeted for use in lithium-ion batteries. Spain-based Silicio FerroSolar, part of the global Ferroglobe group, produces high purity-grade silicon found in a growing list of applications and is developing tailor-made silicon powders for the anode of lithium-ion batteries.
ASX-listed high purity alumina hopeful, Altech Chemicals, has linked up with an international silicon powder supplier to collaborate on the development of a long-life silicon anode active material intended for use in lithium-ion batteries. Spain-based Silicio FerroSolar, part of the global Ferroglobe group, produces high purity-grade silicon found in a growing list of applications and is developing tailor-made silicon powders for the anode of lithium-ion batteries.
At the same as it launched a $14.5 million capital raise, Altech signed a collaboration agreement with Silicio FerroSolar looking to capitalise on the two companies’ technologies and combined silicon and high purity alumina expertise in a bid to meet the increasing demand for silicon from new applications.
Altech is developing anode-grade high purity alumina and coating technology for the purpose of applying the coating to graphite particles that are typical of those currently used in the anode of lithium-ion batteries. It says that both companies believe the same technology can be applied to Silicio FerroSolar’s lithium-ion battery silicon powders.
Under the collaboration agreement, Silicio FerroSolar and Altech will analyse the possibility of using the latter’s high purity alumina and technology to coat specifically designed silicon particles supplied by the leading silicon producer. Altech will supply the coating technology and sole fund the test work.
According to Altech, alumina coating of silicon particles has the potential to overcome three key impediments to silicon’s commercial application in lithium-ion batteries. The challenges are expansion-induced fragmentation, poor cyclability performance and high capacity loss on the first battery cycle.
The Perth-based company says electric vehicle company, Tesla, recently suggested that silicon solutions were set to dominate the battery market over the next five to seven years, given silicon had almost 10 times the capacity compared with carbon-based materials.
Altech pointed out that the electric car giant revealed at its recent battery day and annual general meeting in California an intention to leverage silicon anode technology and to manufacture lithium-ion batteries inhouse.
Major shareholders in Altech – Germany-based investment firm Deutsche Balaton and Malaysian manufacturing outfit Melewar Industrial Group – have agreed to take up approximately 52 per cent of the share placement offer, which is scheduled to close in the first week of December.
Funds from the capital raise are planned to go towards stage two capital works construction of a proposed high purity alumina plant in Malaysia. Other allocations from the placement include working capital and the company’s various European initiatives including a feasibility study on a possible high purity alumina plant development in Germany.
Altech is advancing the proposed US$280 million development of the high purity alumina processing plant in Johor Bahru. Ore feed for the plant is earmarked to be sourced from the company’s kaolin resource at Meckering in WA and shipped to Malaysia.
The company hopes to build the Johor Bahru plant over the next two to three years and export the first high purity alumina product out by about 2023. Altech has secured an offtake sales arrangement with Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Corporation’s Australian subsidiary, Mitsubishi Australia Ltd, covering the first 10 years of HPA production from the Malaysian plant.
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