Sweden looks to graphite and graphene for battery anodes

Sweden looks to graphite and graphene for battery anodes

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

A major project in Sweden is looking to use an old graphite mine for the next generation anode technology in silicon and solid state batteries as well as fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles.  

Woxna Graphite in Sweden is part of the “Graphite and graphene as battery electrodes” project funded by the Vinnova funded competence centre Batteries Sweden (“BASE”).

The project will research the use of natural graphite for battery applications, from the addition of particles to silicon to the long-term stability and characterization and optimization of the surface chemistry. The competence centre, coordinated by the Ångström Laboratory and battery scientist Professor Kristina Edström at Uppsala University, is funded by SEK34m (€3.25m).

The other partners in BASE include Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, ABB, Volvo, Altris, Comsol, Graphmatech, Insplorion, Northvolt, SAFT, Scania, Stena Recycling, Volvo Cars and Woxna Graphite.

Woxna owns one of the western world’s few permitted and fully built graphite mines, located in central Sweden near the town of Edsbyn. The mine and production facility is comprised of four deposits each with a mining lease, an open pit mine, a processing plant and tailings dam. Graphite is a key material for next generation high performance battery production according to the latest report from the UN: UN REPORT DRIVES COBALT-FREE AND SILICON BATTERY TECH

“Being part of this project is a great opportunity for Woxna Graphite to contribute to the long-term vision of the Batteries Sweden alliance. Being able to supply natural graphite from Sweden could enable sustainable high-performance battery materials of the future. One of the focus areas, surface modification of spherical purified natural graphite is a key area of innovation to enable improved performance and cycle life for lithium-ion battery anodes,” said Filip Kozlowski, CEO of Woxna Graphite, a subsidiary being spun out of Leading Edge Materials in Vancouver, Canada.

Although traditional graphite markets have not been cost effective, the company is working on the possible production and modification of high purity material using thermal purification technologies for the lithium-ion battery industry.  Other potential markets being investigated are purified micronized graphite for metallurgical and electroconductive additives and purified large flake graphite as a precursor for the production of foils and fuel cell bipolar plates.

However the purification and modification of natural graphite is very energy intensive and having access to low cost low carbon footprint hydropower in Sweden provides an opportunity to become a market leader in terms of sustainability.

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