Tesla, at its recent battery day announced that the required step change to increase lithium-ion battery energy density and reduced cost is more silicon in battery anodes. For this to be achieved, high energy capacity metallurgical silicon needs to be introduced into anode chemistry, as silicon has ten times the energy retention capacity compared to the incumbent anode material - graphite. In the words of Elon Musk, "this is the most promising anode material".
However, metallurgical silicon is currently not used in lithium-ion batteries due to two major technological challenges. Silicon expands up to 300% in volume during battery operation causing swelling, fracturing and battery failure. The second challenge is that silicon deactivates up to 50% of the lithium ions in a battery. Called first-cycle-loss, lithium ions are rendered in-active by the silicon, immediately reducing battery performance and life. Industry is in the race to resolve these technical challenges, as the prize for the first to succeed is barely imaginable.
Altech Chemicals, an Australian company believes that its nano technology that delivers an alumina coating of silicon particles will resolve both the swelling and first-cycle-loss capacity problems. Research and development conducted by the Company has shown very promising results. Initial battery testing was encouraging, and further tests are ongoing. The Company is rapidly gaining confidence in its game changing alumina coating technology. This Company has already commenced a pre-feasibility study for a construction of 10,000tpa battery materials coating plant in Saxony, Germany to service the burgeoning European lithium-ion battery market.
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Altech Chemicals Ltd