AETC BROADENS ITS HORIZONS IN 2022
American Energy Technologies Co. (AETC) had a record year in 2022, keeping our specialty graphite production plant busy with a flurry of manufacturing activity, launching of new production lines, growing our services line of business, and forming strategic partnerships spanning the globe. As we have continued to expand AETC’s manufacturing business, making truckload shipments of graphite and carbon products, AETC has continued to help people live greener and better. We have brought our services to new heights for our clients and customers, developing manufacturing facilities that utilize new technology licensing agreements. We have also grown with the construction of our latest expansion facility in the state of Illinois. Finally, we have furthered our outreach activities, reaching the US government, European Union, and more.
In the realm of manufacturing graphite and carbon for advanced energy systems, AETC achieved a new record in shipments of battery-ready graphite to our customers. The US government officially recognized AETC as a commercial-scale graphite supplier for anode-grade graphite and cathode-additive graphite in lithium-ion batteries. In November 2022, the United States Department of Energy released a report where the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) formally featured AETC as a supply chain member of automotive lithium-ion batteries in the US. For more information, please read the referenced report:
Additionally, PNNL distinguished AETC's industrial capabilities and role in the US electric vehicle supply chain in the presentation "The US Lithium Battery Market and the Challenge of Supporting it with Domestic Suppliers" and a second presentation entitled "How to Add Resilience to the US Li Battery Supply Chain?" For additional information, please review the recorded webinar hosted by PNNL (https://www.pnnl.gov/events/energy-storage-pnnl).
Throughout the year, AETC was fortunate to build stronger relationships with industrial customers operating in the sphere of graphite for advanced battery systems. Many publications in the ASX and NAATBatt's Advanced Battery Weekly have introduced examples of industry partnerships which AETC became a part of. In April 2022, AETC, Urban Electric Power (UEP), and its vendor Volt Resources announced a milestone joint development agreement. This partnership focuses on supporting the advanced alkaline battery market, estimated to have annual sales of US$7.5 billion, comprising 12 billion battery cells sold and requiring 14,000 tons of graphite. This joint development agreement focuses on natural flake graphite and expanded delaminated graphite to support commercialization of UEP’s alkaline battery systems. In 2022, Urban Electric Power installed 5,200 alkaline battery cells (using a patented zinc manganese dioxide technology) at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). The cells can store a megawatt-hour (MWh) worth of electricity. An additional 5,200 cells are on the way; in Phase 2, the same size is to be commissioned at the SDSC.
Another joint development agreement became the collaboration between 24M Technologies, AETC, and Volt Resources. This partnership centered on optimizing graphite materials for use in 24M's SemiSolidTM lithium-ion battery technology. We are very excited about this partnership with 24M and its application of Zavalievsky natural graphite (ZG). ZG graphite is the largest operating natural graphite resource in Europe. It is now available on the US soil to support advanced lithium-ion technologies in green utility industries such as wind and solar, as well as for electric vehicle applications.
Continuing with the successful partnerships of strategic nature, AETC is proud to have became a part of another development founded in September 2022. AETC, with the joint effort of approximately 15 European and international organizations, submitted a proposal to the EU titled "Graphite Resilience for Lithium-Ion battery anodes through a sustainable European End-to-End supply chain," GR4FITE3 Horizon project. The Horizon project's consortium of 10 organizations from 6 European countries includes the following: RINA (Italy), Zavalievsky Graphite LLC (Ukraine), CIDETEC (Spain), le Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières/BRGM (France), Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives/CEA (France), the Gas Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Ukraine), the Institute of Non-Ferrous Metals of Łukasiewicz Research Network (Poland), the Kyiv University of Technologies and Design/KNUTD (Ukraine), Minviro (United Kingdom), and ICONS (Italy). Solaris Bus & Coach, Impact Clean Power Technology, and other indicated users in the proposal are earmarked as OEMs who are direct beneficiaries of the supply chain in battery-ready graphites and greatly support this project. The GR4FITE3 Horizon project addresses a unique opportunity to establish an environmentally responsible supply of battery-ready graphite within the lithium-ion battery market for use in electric vehicles and commercial utilities. With its 20+ existing and publicized Giga-factories, multiple centers of domestic electric vehicle manufacturing, European policy and governance, and the enthusiasm and willingness of European consumers to live a greener life and their willingness to pay premium prices for the aforementioned privilege, Europe has become fertile ground for facilitating the use of these modern-day energy-generating devices. As such, this proposal was ultimately awarded funding in December 2022 by the European Commission. The project caters directly in support of priorities set forth by President von der Leyen seen on September 14, 2022, State of the Union Address (youtube.com/watch?v=K8LzZ2vgnwA). As part of this project, AETC is looking forward to collaborating with these organizations as a designated commercialization partner and technology transfer partner; pleased to be working with an entire cohort of technology leaders from the below international organizations:
Continuing the advances in lithium-ion battery-ready graphite, AETC is pleased to announce the publication of an international patent application entitled "PCT/CA2022/050266 ADVANCED ANODE MATERIALS COMPRISING SPHEROIDAL ADDITIVE-ENHANCED GRAPHITE PARTICLES AND PROCESS FOR MAKING SAME 3860-119PCT." This development work presents a novel spheroidization method for manufacturing additive-enhanced spheroidal graphite particles and their application as lithium-ion battery anode active materials. For this method, particles are comprised of natural crystalline flake graphite in combination with additives, such as silicon nanoparticles or synthetic graphite, then rolled into spheres using the new spheroidization process, followed by surface coating with a layer of amorphous carbon. In addition, this document describes a lithium-ion battery containing additive-enhanced graphite embedded into an agile matrix of high-structure carbon black loaded at optimum compositions as a negative electrode. Of the six inventors, five AETC engineers and scientists are coauthors on this industry-critical patent application.
During this year, AETC also proudly presented at industry meetings, conferences, and symposiums. The below list of presentations only includes some examples of the talks given: As part of Benchmark Week 2022: Graphite + Anodes held on Nov. 11 – 18 in Los Angeles, CA, AETC presented alongside an industry panel concerning the building of regional supply chains (https://www.benchmarkminerals.com/wp-content/uploads/GA-Agenda-Benchmark-Week-2022.pdf). This discussion centered on the current key points in the industry: (1) the importance of building a robust domestic supply chain for anodes to North America's EV transition goals, (2) the resource potential held within the US and North America, (3) the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and other policy and geopolitical developments, and (4) the challenges and opportunities associated with scaling up supply in the region.
In the second milestone presentation given by AETC, two authors from AETC and a coauthor from AETC's partner company, Apollo Energy Systems, Inc., operating out of Fort Lauderdale, FL, had the privilege of presenting a talk at the US Lead Battery Supply Chain Symposium organized by Military Power Sources Consortium in December (https://milpwr.org/event/u-s-lead-battery-supply-chain-symposium). In April 2022, President Joe Biden announced that graphite (among other critical battery materials) was designated as "essential to national defense" under the Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950 and will "invoke the Defense Production Act to accelerate domestic production of lithium-ion battery materials, in particular graphite, manganese, cobalt, nickel, and lithium." AETC's presentation, "Application of Domestic Graphite as a Component of New and Improved Lead-Acid Batteries," addressed this growing topic. Presenters discussed the addition of natural flake graphite to the negative plates of automotive batteries, which significantly boost lead-acid battery performance, manifesting itself in considerably increased cycle life defined as pulsed charge-discharge shallow cycling. AETC's production flowsheet for the manufacture of graphite for lithium-ion battery anodes has an ultra-high purity byproduct stream that feeds the supply chains of lead-acid, alkaline, hearing aid, reserve (thermal), and primary lithium batteries, as well as supercapacitors and fuel cells. With these lead acid batteries consuming significant amounts of graphitic carbon, AETC caters to a market size of 75,000 metric tons of graphite and carbon used in the lead-acid battery market per year globally.
In addition, AETC co-exhibited with the Manufacturing Technology program of the Defense Logistics Agency at the Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC) held on Dec. 5-8 in Tampa, Florida. AETC was featured as a success story in a newly published booklet shown below, citing AETC's newly established industrial carbon manufacturing capabilities:
Yet another highlight of 2022 was the outstanding result of AETC's participation in a highly competitive national-level challenge, the 2021 SERDP AFFF Challenge (https://www.challenge.gov/?challenge=2021-serdp-afff-challenge). With the advancement of AETC's submission, it was awarded a cash prize and invited to submit a follow on proposal for an additional effort toward further exploration and development of its expandable-graphite-based biodegradable engineered fire suppressant agents for Class B fuel fires due to its confirmation to be technically feasible by the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC and the Program Office of Weapons Systems & Platforms of Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP).
As you can see, 2022 was an active and exciting year for AETC, in which we expanded to work with many different organizations from the US, European Union, and more. We are excited to continue our advancements and partnerships in 2023, fighting for progress and sustainability. We invite our customers and clients to partner with us and join in this mission. As 2023 begins, let’s look forward together.