After technical meetings this month, VSPC Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lithium Australia, has completed stage I cathode-material testing.
Developed at pilot facility
VSPC has developed advanced processes for manufacturing lithium-ion battery (LIB) cathode powders at its R&D and pilot plant facility in Brisbane, Queensland.
The LFP cathode material has met specifications for power and energy cells at leading Chinese battery producer DLG Power Battery (Shanghai) Co, Ltd.
This material has also performed well in initial electrochemical tests by potential Japanese customers.
Performance is “comparable”
Lithium Australia MD Adrian Griffin said, “This year has seen a significant shift in the Chinese battery markets, with greater demand for LFP for use in short-range electric vehicle and energy-storage applications.
“The test results from battery producers in China and Japan show clearly that the performance of VSPC cathode powders is comparable to other materials currently supplied for the production of LFP LIBs.
“We look forward to furthering our partnerships within the battery industry and, ultimately, supplying products that meet not only VSPC’s stringent quality specifications but those of its international customers.”
Tested by DLG
DLG began evaluating VSPC’s Gen 4 LFP cathode material in March 2019 at its R&D facility in Shanghai.
The materials, assessed in a commercial 18650 battery-cell format, were tested under a range of electrochemical and temperature conditions and subjected to long-term cycle testing.
It was concluded that VSPC’s LFP material met DLG’s stringent specifications for use in LIB cells for both power and energy applications.
The tests followed LIT signing a letter of intent with DLG.
This incorporated a 50:50 jointly owned business, Soluna Australia Pty Ltd, for the exclusive supply and sale of Soluna Battery packs and modules in Australia.
It also involves a technology alliance that will fast-track commercialisation of VSPC’s patented cathode powder technology for use in DLG batteries.
Establishing supply chain
Meeting DLG’s stringent cathode material specification is an important precursor to DLG agreeing to purchase VSPC LFP battery cathode product for use in its batteries.
VSPC is now establishing a supply chain for delivery in 2021 of LFP to various LIB cell makers in China, including DLG.
Target applications include LIB cells for energy storage and large transport vehicles.
Positive Japanese feedback
VSPC has also received positive feedback from Japanese battery-cell producers, which are evaluating its LFP products at laboratory scale.
Electrochemical performance of the LFP material has met Japanese requirements and VSPC is working to refine its product properties for specific applications and prepare for larger-scale testing in 2020.
The market for LFP is expected to grow strongly in the next 10 years due to its suitability for energy storage and certain types of transportation.
This includes as a replacement for lead-acid batteries in various automotive applications and as back-up for power supplies.
Commercial sales of VSPC LFP into the Japanese market are anticipated in 2022 although no formal binding offtake agreements are in place.