Spherical graphite boost for silicon anode battery technology

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Sicona is a battery developer commercialising a silicon-composite anode that combines silicon with graphite to improve both capacity and cell density over current graphite-only battery anodes. It is working with local mining company Renascor which will supply purified spherical graphite (above). The collaboration is expected to include pilot production trials leading to commercial quantities of the battery anode material.

Renascor has conducted extensive test work in developing purified spherical graphite for use in lithium-ion battery anodes, including having recently completed a study into a vertically integrated mine and processing plant and a downstream spherical graphite operation using graphite from Renasor’s 100%-owned Siviour Graphite Project in South Australia.

In the first phase of the MOU with Sicona, Renascor will provide to Sicona samples of purified spherical graphite from Siviour, which Sicona will test in both high performance standard-energy graphite anodes, as well as next generation silicon-composite anode materials using Sicona’s proprietary technologies.  Testing will include a full suite of battery performance tests over 250 to 500 cycles, including specific capacity to measure the charge stored in the battery and coulombic efficiency to test the charge efficiency over which electrons are transferred.

“Renascor offers the potential to provide spherical graphite, the key raw material for battery anode producers, at comparatively low-cost due to the high quality of the Siviour Project and Renascor’s extensive development work in respect of producing spherical graphite.,” said Christiaan Jordaan, Chief executive of Sicona.

Sicona’s silicon-composite anode technology offers the potential to deliver up to 177 percent higher specific capacity (mAh/g) and as a result up to 50 percent higher cell energy density (Wh/kg) than conventional/standard graphite-only batteries.

 “By combining Renascor’s competitive advantage in spherical graphite with Sicona’s expertise in silicon-composite battery anodes, we believe we can produce a next-generation anode that can deliver even greater efficiencies in battery technologies.”

“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,” said Renascor’s Managing Director David Christensen. “Sicona are at the forefront of the renewable energy movement and offer the 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 early next year, with first phase testing expected to commence immediately thereafter.

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