Altech Chemicals (ASX: ATC) spent most of the three-month period to the end of September focused on developing sodium aluminium oxide solid state batteries for grid storage.
In the company’s quarterly report released today, it outlined its latest achievements to advance the technology, including the formation of a commercialization joint venture with German firm Fraunhofer IKTS.
Fraunhofer is a world-renowned research center for battery materials and properties and has been developing Cerenergy batteries for the past eight years.
It has spent more than $54.4 million on R&D activities and $38.8 million to run a pilot plant in Hermsdorf to test the technology.
The solid-state Cerenergy concept uses common table salt to create next-generation batteries that are free of lithium, graphite, copper and cobalt.
Cerenergy batteries are flameproof and explosion-proof, have an exceptionally long service life, and can operate in extreme weather conditions.
Silumina anode pilot plant
Altech also spent time during the quarter conducting pre-construction activities at its Silumina anode pilot plant project in the German Schwarze Pumpe industrial park in Saxony.
The company said the procurement of the equipment is very advanced and that it has ordered long lead times.
The required building modifications and panel installation began in July, and detailed design, including commissioning and operational documentation, is nearing completion.
Altech has started a definitive feasibility study for the 10,000-tonne-per-year plant, which will run concurrently with the construction of the pilot plant.
The pilot plant will produce 120 kilograms of silicon-alumina anodes per day, which will be sent to selected end users for product testing.
Altech’s game-changing technology for Silumina anodes is considered a key project for Saxony’s industrial development.
Growing interest in the European battery and automotive industries has led to increased political and economic support, the company said.
Soft pack battery production
During this period, Altech expanded its R&D laboratory in Perth to enable the production of pouch cells to proceed to the next phase of the Silumina anode project.
The in-house facility will allow companies to stage and test electrical abuse scenarios that require pouch cells to operate outside of their nominal voltage and current limits.
Physical and environmental abuse scenarios (batteries subject to extreme temperatures or mechanical deformation) can also be tested.
HPA Project Financing
During this period, financing discussions for Altech’s Malaysian High Purity Alumina (HPA) project continued.
German export credit agency Euler Hermes has renewed a $170 million export credit guarantee for a $190 million senior loan facility provided by German-owned KfW IPEX-Bank.
This was followed by a secondary financing deal with London-based structuring agency Bedford Row Capital in the form of a $144 million green bond offering.
US-based global investment bank DelMorgan and Co has participated in securing up to $100 million in equity financing commitments for the project.