SPHERICAL GRAPHITE (SPG)
Spherical graphite is a physically and chemically altered form of graphite that is optimal for use in anodes for lithium ion batteries (LiB). SPG is a key ingredient by volume in LiBs.
The rounded shape of SPG, allows for more efficient packaging of particles in a LiB which increases the energy capacity of the anode. This market for SPG is growing very rapidly due to the growing global demand for electric vehicles (motor vehicles, passenger and heavy transport) as well as home energy storage solutions.
Historically SPG has been derived from synthetic graphite, a significantly more costly option when compared against natural flake graphite (NFG).
NFG can disrupt synthetic graphite as the primary source of material used to make SPG as synthetic graphite. There is a significant cost advantage in favour of NFG which is defining, as battery manufacturer seek to reduce the overall cost of LiB’s.
BAT is seeking to provide low cost high quality natural flake graphite (NFG).
The global production of spherical graphite is currently dominated by China and LiB’s manufacturers are actively seeking alternative supply options.
The spherical graphite produced in China is usually purified and either coated domestically within China or sent to Japan, where the anode ready coated spherical graphite is then supplied to battery manufacturers worldwide.
Testwork to date has confirmed that BAT’s natural flake graphite from both the Montepuez and Balama Central Projects is ideally suitable for Lithium Ion Battery (LiB) applications.
The advanced Spherodisation process which uses no chemicals as per traditional spherical graphite production is completed via a 100% mechanical process, providing significant environmental benefits.
The purification stage is critical for high-powered batteries, such as the ones commonly used in the electric automotive industry. The process improves the chemical characteristics of the product to deliver optimum power and performance.
The process is summarised below.