Frankfurt am Main (pta032/22.12.2020/17:40) - Highlights:
* Successful graphite coating development
* Curtin University & University of Western Australia
* New product development targeting lithium-ion battery anode
* Specially designed formulation and coating process
* Potential improvements to lithium-ion battery life, capacity and chargeability
Altech Advanced Materials AG ("AAM") (FRA: AMA1) is pleased to announce that Altech Chemicals Limited ("Altech") has successfully finished an initial demonstration of its technology to coat particles of graphite, typical of those used in anode applications within lithium-ion batteries, with a nano layer of high purity alumina (HPA).
In our corporate news of September 23, 2020, we already announced that, Altech as a result of its ground-breaking research and development work was proceeding to an independent verification phase of its method for the alumina coating of graphite particles. A first phase demonstration was conducted at Curtin University, Western Australia during late November 2020 and resulted in the successful application of a uniform and consistent two to three (2-3) nano-metre (nm) coating of alumina to graphite particles.
The HPA coated graphite particles were examined at the University of Western Australia under a transmission electron microscope (TEM). A uniform and consistent alumina layer of around 2 nm was observed on the outer edge of the graphite particle with Altech's alumina coating technology. The uniformity and consistency of an alumina coating on graphite particles is expected to be critical for improved lithium-ion battery performance. In contrast ist that an alumina layer applied via a current coating technique is thicker, irregular and inconsistent.
The demonstration of Altech's HPA particle coating technology is a very encouraging development for the Company. The next step will be to advance battery performance trials. These trials will aim to quantify the potential performance and lithium-ion battery life-cycle improvements using Altech's HPA coated graphite anodes.
HPA is commonly applied as a coating on the separator sheets used within a lithium-ion battery, as alumina coated separators improve battery performance, durability and overall safety. However, there is an evolving use for alumina within the anode component of the lithium-ion battery because of the positive impacts that alumina coated graphite particles have on battery life and performance.
Lithium-ion battery anodes are typically composed of graphite. In a lithium-ion battery, lithium ion losses initially present as inactive layers that form during the very first battery charge cycle, the losses then compound with each subsequent battery usage cycle. Typically, around 8% of lithium ions are lost during the very first battery charge cycle. This "first cycle capacity loss" or "first-cycle irreversibility" is a long recognised but as yet poorly resolved limitation that has plagued rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
First cycle capacity loss in a lithium-ion battery is because of the consumption of lithium ions within the battery during the initial battery charging cycle. This forms a layer of material on the anode termed a "solid electrolyte interphase" (SEI). Currently the graphite particles used in lithium-ion battery anodes are uncoated, however manufactures are now seeking to coat anode graphite particles with a very thin layer of alumina. Tests have demonstrated that alumina coated graphite particles act as an "engineered SEI" with the potential to reduce first cycle capacity loss. In turn, this innovation can measurably increase battery energy retention, extend battery life and improve overall battery performance.
Altech has launched development of a new product range called "Anode Grade APC01" and "Anode Grade ALC01". This product combined with Altech's particle coating technology is expected to improve Coulombic Efficiency (CE) (especially the CE in first cycle), cycling stability, high-rate performance and fast charging capability. Altech intends to focus on tailoring its high purity alumina into specialised products for significant more efficient application within various process technologies within the lithium-ion battery industry. The initiative also offers another potential avenue to secure a portion of future HPA production at a predetermined floor price, which would support project financial close.
Altech's proposed Anode grade product range could be produced by Altech's already designed HPA plant in Johor, Malaysia. No new specialised equipment will be required, consequently it is not expected that there will be any material change in the estimated capital cost for the Johor HPA plant from the proposed production of these new products.
Iggy Tan, Managing Director of Altech and member of the management board of AAM said that verification of Altech's coating technology is very exciting for the Company. "We are very encouraged by the near perfect coating results from our technology which has the potential significantly impact lithium-ion battery performance and address the problem of "first cycle capacity loss". The next stage is battery performance testing using our alumina coated graphite, which will hopefully demonstrate a step change in battery energy density capacity, performance and battery life," he said.
The Management Board
About Altech Advanced Materials AG
Altech Advanced Materials AG ("AAM") currently plans to acquire up to 49% of Altech Chemicals Australia PTY LTD ("Altech Australia"), a subsidiary of Altech Chemicals, for up to USD 100 million.
Altech Australia is currently building a production plant for high-purity alumina (99.99%; 4N HPA) for 4,500 tons p.a. in Malaysia and also has its own deposit for the extraction of the main raw material kaolin. 4N HPA is required for the production of LED lights and as a separator for lithium-ion batteries, which are needed for electric vehicles and smartphones, for example. According to market studies, demand for 4N HPA is expected to grow by an average of 30% p.a. until 2028. Altech Australia's proprietary process allows the production of HPA as a cost leader, as HPA can be extracted directly from kaolin. This allows a production without the use of energy-intensive aluminum. The acceptance of the production volume for the first 10 years has been secured by an off-take agreement with Mitsubishi Australia and the production capacity and quality is guaranteed by the German plant engineering company SMS group GmbH from Düsseldorf, which has also agreed to provide equity capital for the Altech HPA project.
The overall project has a remaining investment volume of around USD 390 million, of which KfW-IPEX Bank has already committed USD 190 million under certain conditions and SMS group GmbH has already entered into an equity commitment of USD 10 million. Altech Chemicals Limited is currently in discussions with Macquarie Bank regarding the provision of USD 90 million mezzanine capital. The remaining USD 100 million is to be provided by AAM.(end)
|emitter:||Altech Advanced Materials AG|
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|contact person:||Hansjörg Plaggemars|
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