Technology development company Hazer Group (ASX: HZR) has been granted two innovation patents and had the application for its first Australian patent accepted in relation to its low-emission hydrogen and graphite production process.
The company today announced acceptance by the Australian patent office of an application covering aspects of its Hazer Process, with the application now entering the mandated opposition period.
The deed of letters patent is then expected to be issued three months following the end of this period, Hazer told the market.
In addition, the company announced the imminent certification of two innovation patents entitled “A process for producing hydrogen and graphitic carbon from hydrocarbons”.
According to Hazer, these innovation patents are expected to “broaden Hazer’s future licensing pathways and provide additional protection” to preserve the company’s rights with regards to the Hazer Process.
Intellectual property protection strategy
The company has been pursuing a “structured and rigorous” intellectual property protection program involving a series of Australian and international patent applications through four patent application families.
These application families cover: a process for producing hydrogen from hydrocarbons; a process for producing hydrogen and graphitic carbon from hydrocarbons; a process for controlling the morphology of graphite; and a system for the production of hydrogen and graphitic carbon.
According to the company, the remaining patent applications remain ongoing and continue to be pursued as per the normal procedures of the various organisations.
“We look forward to continuing to develop our strong intellectual property portfolio position as we continue to learn more about our technology, its products and applications and progress the Hazer Process through commercial demonstration and scale-up phases,” Hazer chief executive officer Geoff Ward said.
Developing the Hazer Process
Hazer has been developing its Hazer Process, which involves the conversion of natural gas and similar methane feedstocks into hydrogen and high-quality graphite, using iron ore as a process catalyst.
The company has had a busy six months, operating a fluidised bed reactor (FBR) pilot plant and being in the process of relocating it from Sydney to strategic partner Mineral Resources’ (ASX: MIN) Kwinana site in Perth to share costs and operational support.
Last week, the company announced initial results from the independent testing of graphite produced through the Hazer Process, which demonstrated the graphite’s suitability for use in the major commercial applications of lithium-ion battery anodes and dry lubricants.
According to Hazer, the independent report by the CSIRO stated that “all cells based on Hazer materials showed improving capacity performance throughout the evaluation”.
“The promising results obtained here for most of the materials suggest that this inventory could be further optimised for use as battery electrode materials,” CSIRO reported.
Mr Ward said the company was “very encouraged by these initial results in two significant sectors of the $14 billion global graphite market.”
Hazer has also been developing front-end engineering design (FEED) studies for an initial commercial demonstration project that will be its focus in 2019, and concept studies for a range of initial commercial-scale plants.
In a separate update to shareholders today, Mr Ward said this work was “progressing well and showing excellent potential”.
Based on its initial FEED study results, the company is looking at a commercial demonstration project capable of operating on a continual, 24/7 basis producing about 100 tonnes per annum of hydrogen and about 3,75tpa of graphite, with a target capital cost of around $10 million.
“The FEED studies completed have provided sufficient confidence for us to look to progress our discussions with potential hydrogen off-takers and project co-funders as we head into 2019,” Mr Ward said.
He told shareholders the company’s key focus areas for 2019 would include the commissioning and operation of the FBR pilot plant and the delivery and analysis of successful pilot results, as well as its agreement to progress to the second stage of its strategic partnership – the construction of a Mineral Resource-owned commercial demonstration plant in Kwinana.
“As per our existing collaboration agreement, this will include Mineral Resources and Hazer agreeing the full commercial terms for the licence agreement to use the Hazer Process in this plant including details of the proposed royalty agreements,” Mr Ward said.
CEO and directors snap up shares
Hazer also today advised that Mr Ward and two Hazer directors, Tim Goldsmith and Danielle Lee, have recently invested a total of $400,000 in the company.
This investment comprises the purchase of 1 million existing Series C options at $0.05 per option and the exercise of 1.4 million Series C options at an exercise price of $0.25 per share.