Altech Chemicals (ASX: ATC) has commenced a pre-feasibility study (PFS) for the construction of a battery materials high purity alumina (HPA) coating plant in Saxony, Germany.
The company announced plans to launch the study last month, which will entail its 75% owned subsidiary Altech Industries Germany (AIG) assessing the commercial viability of building a plant on a 14,000-hectare site at the Schwarze Pumpe Industrial Park.
The PFS will assume a phase one plant designed with the capacity to coat 10,000 tonnes per annum of anode graphite using Altech’s nano layer alumina coating technology. This technology is believed to improve coulombic efficiency, cycling stability, high-rate performance and fast-charging capability of lithium-ion battery anodes.
The plant’s capacity is based on a forecast that European lithium-ion battery plant production capacity will total about 500 Gigawatt hours per annum by 2025.
Using this prediction, European demand for anode graphite is estimated to reach about 500,000tpa when all of the planned lithium-ion battery plants achieve full production.
AIG has conservatively assumed that only 50% of the forecast lithium-ion battery plants will eventuate, which would mean its proposed plant’s 10,000tpa coating capacity would represent 4% of the overall European market for anode graphite.
Four-stage coating process
The battery material coating process consists of four stages. The first stage is a HPA precursor production step using an alternative alumina feedstock.
Altech has noted the feedstock will ultimately be supplied from its 4,500tpa HPA processing plant in Johor, Malaysia once operational, which in turn will derive its feedstock from Altech’s wholly-owned kaolin deposit in Meckering, Western Australia.
However, the option for an alternate initial precursor supply will allow for the German coating plant to have a development timeline that is independent of Johor.
Stage two of the coating process involves receiving the anode battery material (graphite or silicon) in bulk bags or drums.
The third stage is the HPA nano layer coating process, which will take place in the coating section of the plant using Altech’s proprietary technology.
Finally, the finalised coated material will be packaged in bulk bags or drums for shipment to end users.
Proposed plant to allow for additional material coating capacity
Altech said the layout of the proposed plant will also allow for the construction of additional coating facilities in the future, such as the capacity to coat silicon and/or graphite.
Last week, the company reported a breakthrough in the development of silicon alumina coating, which followed the successful application of its technology in the coating of graphite particles.
Targeting green project status
Altech said it is targeting ‘green project status’ with the plant’s proposed design, which the PFS assuming the use of 100% renewable power from the local grid plus some minor on-site solar generation for buildings.
Once the PFS is completed, the company aims to receive green accreditation for the project by the Centre of International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO) in Norway.