08/07/2021 - 12:14

Lithium Australia takes key step in next-generation battery chemistry push

08/07/2021 - 12:14

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Lithium Australia appears to have taken a key step to commercialising its lithium manganese ferro phosphate or “LMFP” cathode powder used in lithium-ion batteries with the product now available for consumer testing. The company says LMFP-type batteries are cheaper, safer and longer lasting than traditional nickel-based alternatives with the likes of Tesla transitioning to phosphate-based batteries to power its electric vehicles.

Lithium Australia’s lithium manganese ferro phosphate cathode powder used in lithium-ion batteries is now available for consumer testing. Credit: File

Lithium manganese ferro phosphate or “LMFP” cathode powder used in lithium-ion batteries has been produced in Australia and is available for consumer testing in what is a key step by Lithium Australia towards commercialising its innovative processing technology. The company says LMFP-type batteries are cheaper, safer and longer lasting than traditional nickel-based alternatives with the likes of Tesla transitioning to phosphate-based batteries to power its electric vehicles.

Lithium Australia has been researching and developing advanced cathode powder for use in lithium-ion batteries via its 100 per cent owned subsidiary in Queensland, VSPC.

VSPC is running a pilot plant where it is producing lithium ferro phosphate cathode powder, or “LFP” and LMFP cathode powder. Both products contain no nickel or cobalt which to date have been fundamental components in lithium-ion batteries.

Samples of VSPC-produced LMFP cathode powder have now been shipped to existing and potential customers for commercial testing in lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium Australia believes LFP and LMFP powered batteries provide superior performance to nickel-cobalt powered alternatives, with key players in the lithium-ion battery industry seemingly shifting toward phosphate-based products. Management says leading Chinese battery and electric vehicle manufacturer, BYD, is one prominent firm adopting LFP technology in preference to nickel-cobalt based options.

Tesla is also reportedly adopting LFP-based technology for its Megapack grid-scale battery energy storage systems and low-range electric vehicles. German car manufacturer, Volkswagen, is set to power its entry-level electric vehicles with LFP.

Intriguingly, Lithium Australia sees LMFP cathode powder as “the next generation of energy-storage material” providing superior performance to LFP.

Lithium Australia’s Managing Director Adrian Griffin said: "Lithium Australia has not only demonstrated its unprecedented ability to produce high-performance LMFP but has done so on schedule. Potential customers can now access this advanced material for testing in commercial format lithium-ion cells. Meanwhile, Lithium Australia continues to evaluate commercial production opportunities in the most rapidly expanding battery markets globally, with a view to shortening supply chains and reducing the carbon footprint of battery production."

VSPC uses a patented process which is said to reduce cost and provide a cost-effective reagent regime in its LMFP material production. The LMFP powder can be tailored to match customer performance criteria.

VSPC intends to make more LMFP available for battery manufacturers who are looking to test the product as an alternative to nickel-based batteries in the electric vehicle industry.

 

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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