Battery minerals explorer Hipo Resources’ (ASX: HIP) partially-owned technology company Next-Battery has secured a landmark strategic relationship with China’s Lvchi Automobile Technology (Shanghai) Co which could see its lithium-ion products play a role in Lvchi’s electric vehicle production.
Lvchi said it had reviewed the Next-Battery technology and the accompanying research and development program, and were satisfied that the new lithium-ion technology could play a “significant part” in the future development plans of Lvchi as Next-Battery moves towards completing its first advanced prototype battery.
The prototype is believed to have a greater energy density than current lithium-ions due to an increase in the volume of electrons moving to the cathode, therefore making it last longer and potentially doubling the driving range of electric cars.
Lvchi and Next-Battery – in which Hipo holds a 35% earn-in interest – will now proceed with key visits to the Ukraine (where the prototypes are being made) and China ahead of formalising the collaboration and fast-tracking the commercial rollout and development of Next Battery.
Gibraltar-based Next-Battery continues to make steady progress on the development of its revolutionary new batteries, which combine lithium-ion chemistries with nano-structuring technology to effectively ‘upgrade’ a battery electrode’s functional properties.
The proprietary process significantly increases the surface area of metal oxides in the cathode, which allows dimension reduction and doping to increase functionalisation and morphology control.
This enables cathodes which are ultra-porous and lithium-infused within a nano-structured surface, to enable faster lithium-ion transport and electron movement in a more energy-dense structure.
Laboratory results have shown that Next-Battery’s cathode manufacturing will be able to produce batteries with twice the energy density of the new Tesla/Panasonic 2170 cell used in the Tesla Model 3 battery pack, at no extra manufacturing cost.
The 2170 cell is believed to be the best lithium-ion technology on the current market.
Next-Battery chief executive Benton Wilcoxon said the new strategic relationship confirms Lvchi’s belief in the accelerated pathway being taken by his company.
“The Lvchi collaboration is an exciting component to our development and confirms that we are well-advanced in developing a battery which has the potential to replace existing technologies being used in today’s EVs,” he said.
Lvchi Auto is a whole-value chain operation platform company with a targeted annual production of more than 500,000 new electric vehicles.
The company’s global research and development layout is based upon Italy’s Turin engineering centre, and it also has technology centres in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Its engineering application development is carried out by Lvchi’s Shanghai engineering research institute in collaboration with Wuxi Research branch and Beijing Future Institute.
Mr Wilcoxon said Lvchi’s collaboration with Next-Battery as it moves to the commercial prototype stage of its lithium-ion technology is a “huge tick” for Next Battery and for Hipo.
At midday, shares in Hipo Resources were down 5.56% to $0.017.