South Star Battery Metals Announces Positive Production of Battery Grade Coated Spherical Purified Graphite
South Star Battery Metals Announces Positive Production of Battery Grade Coated Spherical Purified Graphite
Vancouver, Canada, June 29, 2021 – South Star Battery Metals Corp. (“South Star” or the “Company”) (TSXV: STS) (OTCQB: STSBF), along with its technological partner in the United States (“US Lab”1), are pleased to announce that South Star has successfully produced uncoated and coated spherical purified graphite (“SPG”) suitable for use as anode active material for lithium-ion batteries (“LiB”).
“We are pleased to continue announcing robust battery testing results,” commented Richard Pearce, President and CEO of South Star. “The thermal purification process resulted in 99.9993 wt % C without any of the environmental, health and worker safety issues associated with application of hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acids, which are the standard chemicals used in conventional processing of battery grade graphite. Excellent quality uncoated and coated SPG suitable for LiB anodes was produced. Our spherical graphite testing resulted in yields of approximately 74%, which is twice the standard industry yield. The results indicate we would be very cost competitive with a less costly micronization process and exceptional spherical graphite yields. The latest testing highlights the high-quality, high-purity and low-contaminate nature of South Star’s concentrates for value-add and purified graphite products. We will now be constructing battery cells and performing long-term cycle testing and optimizations.”
Micronization Test Results
Purified graphite was successfully micronized using advanced pilot scale mechanical milling system outfitted with two air classification circuits. The latter technology was found to be preferable over micronization in cascading air jet mills. Specifically, Santa Cruz flake has demonstrated nearly twice higher throughput rate during the mechanical grinding and sizing, as compared to sizing rate in an air-mill of the same nominal size. During sizing step, the size of flakes was reduced to a range of 25 to 30 microns prior to spheroidization. Geometries and shape factors are adjusted based on the battery cell manufacturer’s requirements and the inherent physical characteristics of the graphite.
Mechanical milling was effective in sizing of its flake and resulted in higher throughput, which translates into lower cost for the same energy input. It should be noted that a reference sample of flake graphite from Madagascar was milled on the same mill concurrently. Santa Cruz flake material ground at 23% faster than the reference material processed on the same mill to similar particle size distribution.
1The United States laboratory (“US Lab”) specializes in advanced graphite materials and value-add testing for battery and non-battery applications. The US Lab company name has not been published for the purposes of preserving a commercial advantage of South Star Battery Metals in the marketplace.
Figure 1: Scanning Electron Microscopy Image of Micronized South Star Flake
Uncoated SPG Test Results
Once the target sizing geometries have been achieved, uncoated SPG was produced, the micronized graphite was rolled and rounded into elliptical spheres in a specialized mill. The elliptical shapes are a preferred morphology for higher active loading densities in batteries. They are also preferred due to better rate capacities, safer and generally longer-life LiBs.
The safety aspect of LiBs deserves a standalone comment. Passing criteria for spherical uncoated graphite is defined by the BET (Brunauer, Emmett and Teller) surface area value. The latter has to be less than 10 m2/g for graphite to be considered promising in anode applications. Many uncoated graphites struggle to deliver such a BET surface area and that requires the application of thick exterior coatings as a way to mitigate this issue. By contrast, Santa Cruz spheroidal flake was determined to have BET values of 6.7 m2/g, which is indicative of the fact that this material will require rather thin surface coatings to make a successful anode for LiBs. Moreover, as much as 47.11 wt % of spheronized Santa Cruz graphite was measured to have tap density in the range from 1.02 to 1.16 g/cm3. An additional 26.9 wt % of spheroidal particles was harvested with the tap density of 0.9 g/cm3, which is a passing criterion for LiBs. Therefore, a combined total of 74.01 wt% of useable uncoated spheroidal purified graphite was harvested in the process of spheroidization of Santa Cruz natural flake. In contrast, typical yields of spheroidal product synthesized in the cascade milling circuits by Asian manufacturers of spherical graphite are 35-40 wt % spheres. It is worth noting that higher yield is a prerequisite to the cost leadership position of Santa Cruz natural graphite on the worldwide markets of advanced graphite products.
Figure 2: Scanning Electron Micrograph of Spherical Graphite (Intermediate Product)
Coated SPG Test Results
Finally, uncoated SPG was coated with a nanolayer of soft carbon and heat treated under a blanket of inert gas. The hardened coating provides a layer of protection from exfoliation and general degradation during the normal expansion and contraction cycles associated with charging and discharging. The coating also reduces ongoing reactions of electrolytes with the graphitic carbon, which results in a reduced battery life. Coated SPG is the basic raw material used to generate battery anodes by casting the coated SPG onto copper foils.
For this round of testing a D50 of 18 microns of purified graphite was produced. Future testing will include optimization of particle size and determining the electrochemical performance of Santa Cruz graphite in the battery cell environment. The results of the Coated SPG testing indicate excellent physiochemical properties for high-quality LiB anode materials. A summary is presented in Table 1 and Figures 3 and 4, below:
Figure 4: Scanning Electron Micrographs of Coated SPG
About South Star Battery Metals Corp.
South Star Battery Metals Corp. is Canadian Graphite developer focused on the selective acquisition and development of near-term production graphite projects in Brazil. South Star’s Santa Cruz Graphite Project, located in Southern Bahia, and is the first of a series of industrial and battery metals projects that will be put into production. Brazil is the second-largest graphite-producing region in the world with more than 80 years of continuous mining. Santa Cruz has at-surface mineralization in friable materials, and successful large-scale pilot-plant testing (>30t) has been completed. The results of the testing show that approximately 65% of Cg concentrate is +80 mesh with good recoveries and 95-99% Cg. With excellent infrastructure and logistics, South Star is carrying its development plan towards Phase 1 production projected in Q4 2022, pending financing. South Star trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol STS, and on the OTCQB under the symbol STSBF.
South Star is committed to a corporate culture, project execution plan and safe operations that embrace the highest standards of ESG principles based on transparency, stakeholder engagement, ongoing education and stewardship. To learn more, please visit the Company website at https://www.southstarbatterymetals.com.
This news release has been reviewed and approved by Richard Pearce, P.E., a “Qualified Person” under National Instrument 43-101 and President and CEO of South Star Battery Metals.
On behalf of the Board,
Mr. Richard Pearce
Chief Executive Officer
For additional information, please contact:
CHF Capital Markets (IR Canada)
Iryna Zheliasko, Manager
Phone: +1 416-868-1079 x229
RBMG – RB Milestone Group LLC (IR US)
Trevor Brucato, Managing Director
Mr. Dave McMillan
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This news release and the Updated Technical Report contain references to inferred resources. The Report is preliminary in nature and includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves.
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