Major EV carmaker tests Alaska graphite

 

Last updated 11/1/2019 at 3:51am

Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz; Creative Commons 4.0

Two of the world's top selling electric vehicles, a Tesla Model 3 (left) and Chevrolet Bolt EV (right), charging in Washington D.C.

Graphite One Inc. Oct. 23 reported that material from the company's Graphite Creek project in western Alaska is being tested by a major U.S. electric vehicle manufacturer.

Earlier this year, Graphite One began shipping roughly 12,000 pounds of graphitic material from surface sampling at Graphite Creek to a United States-based industrial partner for processing into advanced graphite materials.

This unnamed strategic partner has processed some of this material into battery-grade spheronized graphite, which was shipped to the undisclosed United States electric vehicle manufacturer for testing.

"Electric vehicle manufacturers are beginning to understand that their continued progress is tied to reliable access to quality EV battery materials, including coated spherical graphite from natural graphite, a major component in the anode of lithium-ion batteries," said Graphite One CEO Anthony Huston.


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Previous extensive testing has shown that the Graphite Creek graphite has distinctive characteristics that make it a particularly good fit for use as an anode material in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and other high-tech applications.

The company has coined the term STAX, an acronym to describe the spheroidal, thin, aggregate and expanded graphite found in the Graphite Creek deposit.

Preliminary tests found that more than 74 percent of the STAX flake graphite could be turned into spherical graphite without milling.

This is a monumental achievement considering that only about 40 percent of the best-performing flake graphite found in any other known deposit can be converted to spherical graphite, even using high-end equipment.

The shape would be of little consequence if the material did not perform well in batteries, but initial testing of spheroidal graphite produced from STAX graphite has demonstrated the potential for exemplary performance.

Coin cells, which are similar in shape and size to batteries used in watches, with STAX graphite as the anode demonstrated a first discharge capacity at or near the theoretical maximum for uncoated spherical graphite.

Discharge capacity is a measure of a battery's energy storage capability once first charged.

The first-discharge capacity of the best-performing cell using STAX graphite equaled the theoretical maximum and most of the cells were within 1 percent. The largest deviation from the theoretical maximum was 3 percent.

Graphite One says this ability to reach and closely approach what is currently believed to be the discharge capacity limit, coupled with the capacity to consistently maintain high values on cycling demonstrates the high-performance potential of the STAX graphitic carbon.


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The company has registered the trademark STAX in Canada in association with graphite in raw or semi-finished form for industrial manufacturing purposes, and has applied to register the same trademark in the United States.

In addition to EV manufacturer's interest in future supplies of STAX graphite, the Graphite Creek project has captured the attention of lawmakers that see the deposit as a potential domestic source of natural graphite, a material that the U.S. is 100 percent import-reliant.

"This interest in Graphite Creek's derived products, coupled with Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy's recent letter to President Trump nominating the Graphite Creek project as a U.S. high-priority infrastructure project, shows the importance of our project as a key source for materials needed in renewable energy applications," said Huston.

Further information on Gov. Dunleavy's nomination can be found at Graphite Creek nominated high priority in the Oct. 18 edition of North of 60 Mining News.


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Graphite One is currently collecting the last bits of data needed to complete a prefeasibility study for developing a mine at Graphite Creek, scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2020.

–SHANE LASLEY

O. Usher; Creative Commons 3.0

Coin cells being tested for capacity and performance. In similar tests, STAX graphite from Graphite Creek shows the potential to deliver both high-energy and high-power performance when used as the anode in lithium-ion batteries.

 

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