Perth-based Altech Chemicals (ASX: ATC) has signed a collaboration agreement with German company SGL Carbon GmbH to support the development of high purity alumina-coated (HPA) graphite materials for use by the lithium-ion battery industry.
Under the terms of the agreement, Altech’s technology will see a uniform nano-layer of HPA applied to SGL’s specifically-designed graphite particles to improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries.
Both companies will fund the test work and retain their respective intellectual property throughout the collaboration.
In December, Altech announced a first phase demonstration of its alumina-coating technology, which coats graphite particles typical of those used in anode application within lithium-ion batteries with a nano layer of high purity alumina.
The trial showed the technology could deposit a uniform and consistent layer of HPA onto the particles, which is considered an important factor in improving lithium-ion battery performance.
Earlier this year, the emerging HPA producer announced the launch of a pre-feasibility study for the construction of a battery coating plant in Germany.
The study is being managed by the company’s 75%-owned subsidiary Altech Industries Germany GmbH and will assume a phase one plant with a coating capacity of 10,000 tonnes per annum (or 35t per day) of anode-grade graphite.
Altech has since completed the first phase of battery performance testing using graphite particles coated with HPA.
The company claimed “positive and encouraging” results for the performance of coated graphite anodes compared to non-coated ones.
SGL Carbon is a world leader in the development and production of carbon-based solutions, employing nearly 5,000 staff worldwide and reporting sales revenue of $1.4 billion in 2020.
The company’s unique graphite and composite materials and products are in demand by industries which are defining the future such as automotive, aerospace, solar and wind energy.
Its solutions are also sought out by manufacturers of semi-conductors, LEDs and lithium-ion batteries.
Altech managing director Iggy Tan said the collaboration with SGL Carbon would reap rewards for the future of lithium-ion batteries.
HPA is a high-value, high-margin product which is increasing in global demand due to its critical contribution to the production of synthetic sapphire-based products such as substrates for LED lights, semiconductor wafers for the electronics industry, and scratch-resistant glass for wristwatch faces, optical windows and smartphone components.
Increasingly, the mineral is being used by lithium-ion battery manufacturers as a battery separator coating, which is believed to improve performance, longevity and safety.
Figures from 2018 estimate global HPA demand will rise by a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 30% over the next seven years.
By 2028, market consumption is forecast to be approximately 272,000tpa, driven by increased adoption of LEDs worldwide and demand from lithium-ion battery manufacturers to serve the burgeoning electric vehicle market.