Frankfurt am Main (pta040/26.01.2021/17:45) -
- Battery performance testing has commenced
- Curtin University specialised testing facility
- Industry standard half-cell battery testing regime
- 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 Australia Pty Ltd ("Altech") has now commenced battery performance testing of graphite particles that have been coated with high purity alumina (HPA), using Altech's proprietary coating technology. The test-work is being conducted at Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia.
In our corporate news of December 22, 2020, we already announced that, Altech has successfully demonstrated its alumina coating technology to coat graphite particles typical of those used in anode applications within lithium-ion batteries (anode grade graphite), with a nano layer of high purity alumina (HPA). The demonstration showed that Altech's technology was able to deposit a uniform and consistent layer of alumina (approximately 2nm thick) onto anode grade graphite particles. The uniformity and consistency of an alumina layer on anode grade graphite is expected to be important to improve lithium-ion battery performance. Following the completion of the demonstration, Altech proceeded to produce a sufficient quantity of coated graphite to proceed to a first stage of battery test-work, which has now commenced.
For its test-work, Altech is employing battery industry standard half-cell buttons for its electrochemical performance testing and evaluation of the alumina coated graphite against non-coated graphite. Curtin University's battery testing division is highly experienced in the development and testing of lithium-ion battery performance. Half-cells are widely used in research laboratories to test new battery materials; even for research and development that targets large-scale and high-power applications. For Altech's tests, a batch half-cells have been produced using non-coated standard anode grade graphite particles (the control), and a separate batch of half-cells was produced using the anode grade graphite that has been coated with HPA using Altech's technology. The first step in creating the cells was to coat copper sheets with the respective graphite material and a binding media, dyes were then punched to create the negative pole of the battery.
Correct assembly of the half-cells was critical to ensure proper evaluation of cell performance, this was done under strictly supervised controlled conditions.
Testing of the performance of the HPA coated graphite, compared to non-coated control, involves the continual charge then discharge of the batches of half-cells over an extended period of time. Typical test programs are more than 500 cycles and will take several months to fully complete. These initial tests, to battery industry standards, are an important first step to demonstrate the gains to be made in lithium-ion battery life from using graphite particles coated with HPA using Altech's technology. The results of the testing program will be reported as they become available, with further tests are expected to follow this initial work.
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. Battery life is potentially extended, if the first cycle capacity loss can be reduced or eliminated thereby allowing more lithium ions to participate in battery operation during its life-cyle.
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 manufacturers are now seeking to coat anode graphite particles with a very thin layer of alumina. Tests have demonstrated that alumina coated graphite particles have 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 targeted at more efficient applications 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 would 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.
The Management Board
About Altech Advanced Materials AG
Altech Advanced Materials AG ("AAM") currently plans to acquire up to 49% of Altech Chemicals Limited ("Altech Australia"), a subsidiary of Altech Chemicals Limited, 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 mezzanine providers 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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