Altech Batteries’ Silumina Anodes a potential EV game-changer

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By Colin Hay - 
Altech Batteries ASX ATC Saxon Germany Silumina Anodes DFS

Altech Batteries’ (ASX: ATC) plan to develop game-changing alumina-coated silicon (silumina) battery anodes for the electric vehicle (EV) industry has received positive support, with the company obtaining “exceptional” results from a definitive feasibility study (DFS).

The DFS was based on the development of an approximately $182 million, 8000 tonnes per annum, 120 gigawatt-hours plant to be built in Saxony, Germany.

The DFS has identified robust investment returns, including a pre-tax net present value of around $1.2 billion, an attractive internal rate of return of 34% and a payback period of 2.4 years.

The study also identified a number of significant cost-saving capital expenditure and operating expenditure opportunities, including a proposal that customers blend coated silicon (10%) with their uncoated graphite source.

This means that Altech’s Silumina Anodes plant will now solely be focused on producing an alumina-coated metallurgical silicon product, which will be integrated into the graphite by the customers within their battery plants rather than at Altech’s facility.

Altech says that according to feedback from potential customers, utilising their existing qualified graphite source is a priority, with the primary appeal lying in integrating Altech-coated silicon into their battery products.

Silumina Anodes plant

The proposed Silumina Anodes plant will be developed by Altech Industries Germany, with an ownership split of 75% Altech and 25% Frankfurt stock exchange-listed Altech Advanced Materials AG (ETR: AMA).

The end product, manufactured exclusively under license from Altech, is strategically aimed at meeting the escalating demand in the European and US EV and grid storage battery markets.

The product has already generated significant interest in the space.

Non-disclosure agreements have been executed with two German automakers, two US automakers, one US battery materials supply company and one European battery maker, each of which has requested commercial samples for their testing and qualification procedures.

Pilot plant construction on target

Meanwhile, Altech is in the final stages of constructing a pilot plant in an existing building in the city of Spremberg in Brandenburg, Germany.

The plant will produce samples for potential customers and further confirm the capability to manufacture the alumina-coated silicon battery anodes.

Altech believes it has figured out how to develop a silicon-based battery technology that has been baffling scientists and the lithium-ion battery industry for years.

Leading global EV and lithium-ion battery developer Tesla has declared that the required step change to increase lithium-ion battery energy density and reduce costs is to introduce silicon, which is estimated to be able to provide 10 times the energy retention capacity of graphite, into battery anodes.

It has also been suggested that thinner silicon anodes will enable much faster battery charging.

Numerous studies have identified metallurgical silicon as the most promising anode material for the next generation of lithium-ion batteries.

However, technical issues have held back progress in commercially developing a solution.

Silicon code cracked

Through in-house research and development, Altech says it has “cracked the ‘silicon code’” and successfully achieved 30% higher energy retention in a lithium-ion battery, with improved cyclability and battery life.

To achieve its breakthrough, Altech successfully coated silicon particles with a high-purity nano layer of alumina, producing the Silumina Anodes product, which it plans to produce at its Saxony plant.

Altech says its technology breakthrough may lead to smaller, lighter batteries and substantially less greenhouse gasses.

The company believes that its technology will be a “game-changer” that would pave the way for increased lithium-ion battery energy density, battery lifespan and reduced first-cycle lithium loss and less greenhouse gases.