- January 17, 2018
- Applied Minerals Moves Closer to Commercialization of its DRAGONITE(R) Halloysite Clay for Use in Lithium-Ion Battery Technologies
NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - January 17, 2018) - Applied Minerals, Inc. (the "Company" or "Applied Minerals") (AMNL), a leading global producer of halloysite clay and advanced natural iron oxides is pleased to update shareholders and the marketplace on halloysite-based lithium-ion ("Li-ion") battery technology.
The Company's primary objective has been to combine its breadth of knowledge of halloysite with publicly available applied research to pursue the commercialization of DRAGONITE halloysite clay within select applications that offer attractive economic opportunities. To capitalize on research that demonstrates the value of halloysite for use in Li-ion battery technologies, the Company is pursuing the commercialization of DRAGONITE as a value-added material to this market. The following is a summary of the Company's progress.
Conventional Li-ion Battery Electrolytes
A conventional electrolyte is a liquid or gel-based chemical solution that enables the flow of ions (electrical charge) between a battery's anode and cathode material.
Manufacturers of Li-ion batteries that utilize conventional electrolytes are continually focused on (i) increasing the specific capacity of the battery and (ii) reducing the flammability risk associated with the combustion of the electrolyte.
Research demonstrates that the incorporation of halloysite clay within a conventional electrolyte at 10 wt% both significantly increases the energy capacity of the battery and improves its thermal stability in large part due to halloysite clay's unique tubular morphology (research).
According to Andre Zeitoun, President and CEO of Applied Minerals, "The Company has received significant interest in DRAGONITE for use in conventional electrolytes. Three of the leading global suppliers of electrolytes are evaluating DRAGONITE to enhance the performance of their conventional electrolytes. We believe this interest clearly demonstrates the potential DRAGONITE has as an additive for conventional electrolytes."
The size of the global Li-ion electrolyte market was approximately 150,000 tons or USD 1.46 billion in 2016. Consumer electronics use the majority of electrolyte production, followed by electric vehicles and industrial energy storage applications.
Solid Polymer Electrolytes
The wide adoption of electric vehicles and other industrial applications in need of large-scale energy storage is dependent on the commercialization of an all solid-state Li-ion battery ("ASSLB"), which is theoretically capable of providing the size, energy storage and safety required by electric vehicle manufacturers.
Battery manufacturers are focused on developing an ASSLB that meets the performance requirements of electric vehicle manufacturers at a cost that makes widespread commercial adoption feasible. The key technical challenge lies in the development of a solid electrolyte.
According to Andre Zeitoun: "The development of a technologically robust ASSLB is arguably the next significant advance for the Li-ion battery industry in general and for the electric vehicle market in particular. However, technical challenges and high manufacturing costs associated with the solid electrolyte have hampered a wider adoption of electric vehicles."
Zeitoun continued, "In response to these challenges, the University of Utah and Central South University (China) have developed a Dragonite-loaded solid polymer electrolyte ("SPE") that provides cost-effective conductivity over a wide range of operating temperatures, as well as the storage capacity required by the electric vehicle industry (research) (patent application). We believe the development of this technology is a further step toward the commercialization of ASSLB's."
According to an analysis carried out by the University of Utah, the opportunity for DRAGONITE as an additive in SPE's is approximately $100 million per annum.
Currently, a leading manufacturer of electrolytes is evaluating DRAGONITE for use as an additive in a solid polymer electrolyte. The Company, with the help of the University of Utah, is aggressively introducing the technology to a number of other electrolyte manufacturers.
Halloysite-Synthesized Silicon Anodes
The anode of a Li-ion battery absorbs lithium ions during the charging phase and releases ions during the discharge phase. The energy capacity of a Li-ion battery is determined, in large part, by the capacity of the anode to store these lithium ions. Conventional anodes are made of a porous carbon, such as graphite, due to its ability to absorb lithium ions.