AETC ESTABLISHES NORTH AMERICA’S FIRST SPHERICAL GRAPHITE PROCESSING FACILITY
AMERICAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES CO. ESTABLISHES NORTH AMERICA’S FIRST SPHERICAL GRAPHITE PROCESSING FACILITY, CREATING A SUSTAINABLE SUPPLY CHAIN FOR THE U.S. LITHIUM-ION BATTERY INDUSTRY. American Energy Technologies Co. (AETC) is proud to have begun a collaboration with Benchmark Mineral Intelligence of Great Britain. Several representatives of technology and business branches of AETC have participated in industry events hosted by the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence team over the course of 2018. The main goal of the collaboration from AETC’s prospective is to develop a sustainable advanced battery-grade spheroidized natural graphite supply chain in North America.
According to Derek Schaltz, AETC’s Nanotechnology and Energy Systems Engineer, “Benchmark Mineral Intelligence predicts an increase in demand for natural graphite to be used in lithium-ion batteries. There is a significant existing capacity to process graphite in North America, as yet there has not been a singular established spheroidal graphite processing facility on the continent.
“We are pleased to announce the establishment of the only spheroidal graphite processing facility in the US, at the new AETC facility in Arlington Heights, IL. AETC looks forward to working with supply chain participants assembled by the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence events to include North American mining and development companies fulfilling the growing demands of the region’s lithium-ion battery industry,” he said.
Mr. Schaltz explained, “In order to use natural graphite in lithium-ion battery anodes, graphite needs to be of sufficient purity level, and needs to be spheronized. The traditional approach is spheroidization processing material of graphite concentrate first and purifying second. We believe there’s a better solution. AETC has implemented a more environmentally responsible overhaul of the traditional flow sheet for secondary processing of natural graphite.
“Incumbent spherical graphite producers in China, for example, mill -100 mesh, 95% carbon flake then shape it into spheres, with very low recovery yields only 30-35 weight percent of the input into the milling circuit,” he said.
“Presently, following recovery of spheres, the non-spherical material is sold at commodity prices into low-tech markets, while the spheronized material is purified through acid-leaching. This is an environmentally irresponsible procedure which includes submerging the flake into a cocktail of hydrofluoric, sulfuric, and other acids,” Mr. Schaltz explained.
AETC’s new model of the traditional flow sheet increases spheronization yield plus eliminates damaging environmental impact of spheroidization processing. “Our approach is based on purifying primary-processed flake concentrate first, followed by spheronization and highly-efficient classification. Our spheronization and classification process yields are some of the highest worldwide, reaching over 70% of usable spherical product depending on the flake source. Material that was not spheroidized retains high-purity after processing; purity ranges from 99.95 to 99.98 %C.
“We are eager to work on implementing our flow sheet in collaboration with other members of the supply chain, to include mining industry partners and customers. Not all flake sizes and types are processed the same, so we encourage interested parties to contact us to discuss how our capabilities can be applied to the battery supply chain of electric vehicles and other, more traditional portable energy applications,” Mr. Schaltz says. “These high-purity products coming out of AETC’s plant can be sold at premium prices in a variety of value-added markets, including specialty paints and coatings, non-spherical battery-grade graphites, conductive plastics, and more,” Mr. Schaltz concluded.