Frankfurt (Germany) (pta009/12.02.2021/10:00) -
- Pre-feasibility study to commence
- Battery materials alumina coating plant
- Utilising Altech's alumina coating technology
- Potential improvements to lithium-ion battery life, capacity and chargeability
- Option to acquire ~ 10Ha industrial site in Saxony, Germany
- EUR 750b of European Union fiscal stimulus allocated to Next Generation "green" initiative
Altech Advanced Materials AG ("AAM") (FRA: AMA1) is pleased to announce that its 25% owned German subsidiary, Altech Industries Germany GmbH (AIG), is to commence a pre-feasibility study on the construction of a battery materials alumina coating plant in Saxony, Germany. This follows the Company's strategy to focus on tailoring its high purity alumina into specialised products targeted at more efficient applications within the lithium-ion battery industry.
The study will assess the commercial viability of constructing a battery materials coating plant at the Schwarze Pumpe Industrial Park in Saxony, Germany, where AIG has an option to acquire an ~ 10Ha site. The coating plant would use Altech's alumina coating technology to coat anode grade graphite particles and/or silicon particles, which would be supplied to the rapidly growing European lithium-ion battery industry. It is contemplated that the coating plant's HPA feedstock requirement would eventually be satisfied from Altech's proposed Malaysian HPA plant. The pre-feasibility work is set to commence in March 2021, and will be jointly funded the AIG shareholder, Altech 75% and Altech Advanced Materials AG 25%.
On 22 December 2020, Altech announced the successful demonstration of 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. On 25 January 2021, the Company commenced battery performance testing of graphite particles that have been coated with high purity alumina (HPA), using Altech's proprietary coating technology.
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 lifeshows could be potentially increased, if the first cycle capacity loss can be reduced or eliminated thereby allowing more lithium ions to participate in battery operation during its life cycle.
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 its nano-layer alumina coating technology which is expected to improve Coulombic Efficiency (CE) (especially the CE in first cycle), cycling stability, high-rate performance and fast charging capability. 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.
The Schwarze Pumpe Industrial Park is located in north-eastern Saxony and is well serviced by existing infrastructure including reticulated electricity and natural gas, rail and roads. The industrial park is 120 km from Berlin and only 78 km from Dresden. Saxony is a state which hosts production sites for Volkswagen, BMW, Porsche and Daimler. The region is a leading engineering training ground and has excellent research facilities like the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano-systems which are very focussed on ceramic (HPA) nano technology in energy storage.
European Union's COVID-19 Recovery Plan
In late 2020, the European Union (EU) announced a EUR 1.85 trillion European Recovery Plan (ERP) aimed to help kick start the European economy post COVID-19. The plan's near-term priority is to repair the immediate economic and social damage brought by the coronavirus pandemic, kickstart economic recovery and prepare for a better future for the next generation. However, EUR 750 billion (or 41%) of the ERP budget is allocated to Next Generation EU, a new initiative to accelerate the twin green and digital transition for Europe, within which the European Commission will focus on unlocking investment in clean technologies and value chains, such as renewable and energy storage technologies - including batteries. Specifically, the plan commits to support finance for one million new electric vehicle (EV) charging points throughout Europe and the implementation of an Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials applicable to e-mobility, batteries and renewable energy. Altech believes that HPA, as a critical input into lithium-ion battery manufacture, would fall within the scope of the EU action plan. Also, a draft of the ERP included a EUR 20 billion EU-wide purchasing facility for clean vehicles and a EUR 40-60 billion clean automotive investment fund, to accelerate investments in zero emissions drive trains. Although this level of detail was not included in the final high-level EU ERP communique - it is indicative of strong EU fiscal support for the European EV and renewable energy storage sectors.
Germany however has been more specific in providing details of the EV industry fiscal support that it has incorporated in its economic stimulus package post COVID-19. As part of Germany's EUR 130 billion coronavirus stimulus package announce in June 2020:
* EUR 2.5 billion will be spent on battery cell production and charging infrastructure;
* there is a 50% increase (to EUR 9,000/vehicle) on the cash subsidy for EV purchases; and
* it has been mandated that all service stations must offer electric car charging points to help remove refuelling concerns and boost consumer demand for EV's.
The European and German initiatives are expected to provide a significant boost to EV demand along with the broader stimulus plan which included taxes to penalise ownership of large polluting combustion-engine sports utility vehicles. Germany's announcement follows a French initiative announced by President Macron to boost electric car sales within that country. Europe has a very clear commitment to battery-powered vehicles and placing electric mobility as a principal technology of the future.
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, 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.
Altech Advanced Materials AG
Board of Directors Hansjörg Plaggemars
Ziegelhäuser Landstraße 3
Phone: +49 6221 64924-0
Further information is available at www.altechadvancedmaterials.com(end)
|emitter:||Altech Advanced Materials AG|
Ziegelhäuser Landstraße 3
|contact person:||Hansjörg Plaggemars|
|phone:||+49 6221 64924-0|
|stock exchanges:||regulated market in Frankfurt; free market in Dusseldorf; open market in Berlin|