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Australian firms to partner on HPA materials for the lithium-ion battery markets

Fri, 10/08/2021 - 09:44 -- paul Crompton

Two Australian firms have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop materials for lithium-ion manufacturing.

The MoU between anode materials company EcoGraf and high-purity alumina firm FYI Resources will produce enhanced high purity alumina (HPA) doped carbon coatings material. 

The collaboration will also include evaluation of HPA and graphite composites for new battery technologies.

HPA-doped carbon coatings are thought to enhance battery anode performance by minimising first-cycle losses during charging cycles through improvement in protective layering. 

HPA is used as a nano thickness thin coating on the separator sheets used within a lithium-ion battery, as alumina coated separators improve the ability to withstand high rates of discharge, battery performance durability and overall safety. 

The initial technical program to produce and evaluate HPA-doped carbon coated SpG will include development of: 

  • The efficient utilisation of HPA, and/or its derivatives, and formulation as a coating precursor for battery anode material and separators 
  • An appropriate Atomic Layer Deposition Coating (ALD) process using HPA as coating precursor specific to EcoGraf high purity SpG 
  • Battery Coin Cell testing for evaluating the performance of Alumina coated EcoGraf SpG

The cost of the technical programs will be shared equally. Upon successful completion of the testwork programs, the parties will pursue agreement on key commercial principles for further collaboration. 

FYI are in discussion with Alcoa of Australia regarding a possible joint venture regarding HPA refining process. 

The discussions include participating in selected potential downstream and value-add HPA development and commercialisation opportunities within the electric vehicle, static power, LED and other niche market segments. 

Andrew Spinks abstained from the board resolution approving and authorising the signing of the MoU, as he is a shareholder of FYI Resources. 

JV term sheet

FYI Resources has also confirmed it has entered into a binding term sheet with Alcoa of Australia Limited (Alcoa) for the joint development of FYI’s  HPA project. 

The term sheet sets out the pathway to a future joint venture including large-scale demonstration plant and primary production facility, 

The term sheet contemplates the three phases for the development of the demonstration plant (around 1,000tpa HPA) and a primary production facility (around 8,000tpa of HPA).

Subject to final investment decisions by both parties, FYI would own 35% and Alcoa would invest $2.1 million for its 65% share of the pilot plant trials.

The joint development is expected to unlock significant project value by combining Alcoa's technical expertise and experience in the construction and operation of refining facilities with FYI's innovative HPA processing flowsheet, industry knowledge and customer contacts. 

A joint development with Alcoa is considered by FYI to be the surest pathway to de-risk and progress the development of the project and to ensure its success once in production. 

The involvement of Alcoa will help to transform the HPA project from the current R&D and design stage to reality.

The execution of the binding term sheet agreement follows the finalisation of the MOU review period as outlined in previous announcements of 8 September 2020, and 6 May, 2021.

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