X-BATT reveals new coal anode material
Develops first 18650 battery using coal to replace graphite Metal Tech News - February 8, 2023
Last updated 2/7/2023 at 12:02pm
With the need for electric vehicle batteries continuing to grow, a solution to the demand for battery materials may come from an unexpected source – coal. Now, for the first time ever, X-BATT has built an 18650 battery using coal.
After spending the better part of two decades supplying precision plastic-engineered components to a broad range of industries, Semplastics expanded with its X-MAT research, focusing on the recycling, reuse, and rediscovery of the vast stockpiles of coal waste accumulated from old-world energy consumption.
Growing into its own with successful coal composite products, Semplastics further expanded into the recycling and upcycling of lithium-ion batteries with X-BATT, using a process that reinvigorates spent graphite in battery anodes.
Now, X-BATT is one step closer to solving the problem of lacking battery materials with a green solution.
"Everyone is wondering where we are going to get more material for lithium-ion batteries," said X-BATT CEO Bill Easter. "Instead, we should be looking for a solution to replace materials currently being used and coal should be a part of that discussion."
Combining coal with its proprietary, low-cost, resin-based technology to create industrial-sized rechargeable lithium-ion batteries or an 18650 battery – a type of battery used in popular EVs – this latest breakthrough is a 500% scale up from where it began with its lab-scale coin cell batteries.
Now that the EV boom is in full swing, with sales of EVs increasing from 6.6 million in 2021 to nearly 11 million sold in 2022, the demand for EV battery materials is on the rise. Projections show EV sales will continue to rise to 20 million per year in 2025 and then top 46 million in 2030.
With X-MAT's coal technology and X-BATT's refining technology, the company has created a new anode material that could supplement and even replace one of the major components of present batteries, graphite.
Graphite, a critical mineral, is in nearly every lithium-ion battery today, and not only is it in short supply, but the raw materials and processing are controlled by China. To meet demand, it is projected that 97 new natural graphite mines and 56 new synthetic graphite plants will need to be opened by 2035; representing a 550% and 145% increase, respectively.
With graphite making up about 28% of the typical EV battery or about 114 pounds per car, the total amount of this carbon material needed would reach many millions of tons by 2035, and the energy, time and resources required to mine or produce graphite at this scale is daunting.
Over the course of a three-year project, the X-BATT team has developed and tested its coal material in small, research-level coin cell batteries and has most recently scaled up production into industrial format 18650 batteries.
This scale-up and third-party testing has been completed in partnership with the Battery Innovation Center in Newbury, Indianapolis, and shows that the material is able to be scaled up in large quantities and processed using standard, already available manufacturing equipment and processes.
Based on the results of X-BATT's research and development funded by the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory, the company believes that coal can play a major role in mitigating this shortfall and is already being produced in the volumes that would be required.
"The demand for lithium-ion batteries is continuing to increase," said Easter. "Our coal-based material can meet this demand in an eco-friendlier way and would lead to a domestic source for anode material, helping the U.S. reduce reliance on foreign countries for the critical materials needed to support the growing demand for electrification."