Archer Exploration (ASX: AXE) has teamed up with the University of New South Wales to develop new graphite and graphene-based materials for lithium-ion batteries.
The research agreement between Archer and the UNSW combines Archer’s graphite and graphene materials with the university’s research and development capabilities.
“The centre has a broad range of capabilities that fulfil our aims to participate in the integration of advanced materials in battery technologies that will provide future opportunities and new markets to underpin the development of Archer’s substantial graphite resources,” Archer chief executive officer Dr Mohammad Choucair said
Under the collaborative agreement, the duo aims to develop “high-performance” electrodes that are electronically, chemically and structurally tailored to customised lithium-ion batteries to ensure optimal performance in the battery’s application ie electric vehicle or mobile device.
The collaboration will trial the electrodes in advanced full-cell and half-cell formulas.
“Archer now enjoys a unique relationship with UNSW and facilities within the university including those in the Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre,” Archer chief executive officer Dr Mohammad Choucair said.
“This centre, unique in its diversity in Australia, comprises A$100 million of state-of-the-art characterisation equipment, managed by over 80 instrument scientists ready to engage and drive research projects with Archer,” Mr Choucair added.
Eyre Peninsula graphite project
Graphite and graphene used in the research will be sourced from Archer’s Campoona deposit, which is part of the company’s Eyre Peninsula project in South Australia.
Archer published a scoping study in 2016 on developing the project which revealed an initial 140,000 tonne per annum graphite mine could generate about A$858 million over 17 years.
The company secured a mining licence for the Campoona deposit late last year and is awaiting other regulatory approvals before starting developments.
This latest collaboration with the UNSW is part of Archer’s strategy to become an integrated graphite and graphene operation.
To further this initiative, the company secured online graphite and graphene market place Carbon Alltropes in October last year and appointed Mr Choucair to its board.
According to Archer, Mr Choucair is a world-renowned graphene expert.
Archer also has several research collaborations underway with the University of Adelaide with one including creating advanced graphene and carbon-based materials for biosensing applications in human health.
Lithium-ion battery market
Analysts have bandied about numerous forecasts for the lithium-ion battery sector, with Archer citing IDTechEx’s US$130 billion estimate by 2028.
Driving this growth is the rise of electric vehicles, mobile devices and renewable energy sectors, which all use the lithium-battery as a power source.
These segments have a consistent need for high-power density and durability. However, each segment has different battery requirements, with the obvious key variation being size – a mobile device needs a much smaller lithium-ion battery than renewable energy infrastructure.
Shares in Archer rose more than 4% to A$0.125 in early afternoon trade.