Emerging high purity alumina (HPA) producer Altech Chemicals (ASX: ATC) has commenced battery performance testing of graphite particles which have been been subject to its proprietary HPA coating technology.
The company has produced its first batch of coated graphite following a demonstration last month of its technology to coat graphite particles typical of those used in anode applications within lithium-ion batteries.
That demonstration showed Altech’s formulation was able to deposit a uniform and consistent layer of alumina onto the anode-grade particles with a view to improving battery performance.
The latest round of testing will involve a batch of electrodes produced using non-coated standard anode-grade particles (the control group) and a second batch using the anode-grade graphite coated with Altech’s HPA technology.
The tests will be conducted to battery industry standards and could be an important first step in demonstrating the gains to be made in lithium-ion battery life using Altech’s process.
Altech has launched the development of two new products – Anode Grade APC01 and Anode Grade ALC01 – which could combine with its HPA coating technology to improve a number of performance features in lithium-ion batteries including coulombic efficiency (CE), cycling stability and fast charging capability.
The proposed products would be manufactured by Altech’s already-designed HPA plant in Malaysia and would not require any new or specialised equipment.
Altech said it did not foresee any material change to the plant’s estimated capital cost with the addition of the new products to the manufacturing cycle.
Lithium-ion losses initially present as inactive layers which compound with each usage and recharge cycle.
Research suggests that around 8% of lithium ions are typically lost during the very first battery charge cycle – this “first cycle capacity loss” or “first cycle irreversibility” is a recognised limitation which continues to plague the product.
HPA has traditionally been applied as a coating on the separator sheets used within a lithium-ion battery to improve battery performance, durability and overall safety.
There is a now an evolving trend towards using alumina within the anode component of the battery as well, due to the perceived positive impacts that alumina-coated graphite particles can have on battery life and performance.
Altech believes its HPA coating technology could potentially increase battery life by reducing or eliminating first cycle capacity loss and allowing more lithium ions to participate in battery operation during a unit’s life span.