Renascor Resources (ASX: RNU) has entered into a non-binding agreement with Sydney-based battery anode company Sicona to jointly develop a next-generation lithium-ion battery anode material which combines silicon with graphite to significantly improve anode capacity and cell energy density.
Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will collaborate on the development using Renascor’s expertise in the production of purified spherical graphite and Sicona’s expertise in the development of silicon-based anodes.
Renascor has conducted extensive testwork in developing purified spherical graphite for use in lithium-ion battery anodes, including a prefeasibility study on a vertically-integrated mine and processing plant and a downstream spherical graphite operation utilising graphite from its flagship Siviour project in South Australia.
Last month, a definitive feasibility study confirmed Siviour as a world-class, low-cost operation capable of generating $2.1 billion over a 40-year mine life.
In the first phase of the new agreement, Renascor will provide Sicona with samples of purified spherical graphite from Siviour, for testing in high-performance, standard-energy graphite anodes and next generation silicon-composite anode materials using Sicona’s proprietary technologies.
A full suite of battery performance tests will be conducted in up to 500 cycles and will include specific capacity tests to measure the charge stored and coulombic efficiency tests to measure charge efficiency over which electrons are transferred.
Additional activities may include pilot-scale production trials and, pending favourable results, production of commercial quantities of next-generation battery anode materials.
Sicona’s core business is the commercialisation of an innovative silicon-composite battery anode technology, developed and perfected over the last 10 years at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials in New South Wales.
The company’s silicon-composite anode technology offers potential to deliver up to 177% higher specific capacity and a resulting higher cell energy density of up to 50% greater than conventional or standard “graphite-only” batteries.
Renascor managing director David Christensen said the non-binding agreement would allow for the supply of high-quality spherical graphite to Sicona at “comparatively low-cost”.
“The battery anode market offers outstanding growth potential as increased electrical vehicle take-up leads to greater demand for key raw materials such as spherical graphite,” he said.
“We are delighted to work with Sicona … [the company] is at the forefront of the renewable energy movement and offers potential for even greater efficiencies in battery performance through its advanced work in next-generation anodes.”
Renascor expects to conclude a binding agreement with Sicona in early 2020, with first phase testing expected to commence immediately thereafter.