Westwater Resources, Inc. (“Westwater”) , an energy materials development company, today announced that it has taken delivery of 30 metric tonnes of natural flake graphite concentrate at Dorfner Anzaplan’s facility in Hirschau, Germany, purchased under the Company’s long-term graphite purchase agreement.
This material will be utilized in the pilot plant currently being constructed at Dorfner Anzaplan’s facilities near Amberg, Germany, as well as at facilities in Frankfort, Germany, Chicago, Illinois and Buffalo, New York. This combined effort is expected to produce a total of more than 10 metric tonnes of three trademarked battery graphite products: ULTRA-PMG™, ULTRA-CSPG™ and ULTRA-DEXDG™.
Christopher M. Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westwater, said, “This pilot plant is unique in several aspects. We are utilizing several years of accumulated science and engineering technical data to produce battery products through an environmentally sensitive process for testing by our prospective customers. This pilot will produce high quality and high-performance battery graphite products that will be consistent with our full-scale production facility.”
Purification, the first step in preparing battery graphite concentrate, will take place in Germany at locations under the direct supervision of Dorfner Anzaplan. The purified product will then be sized and, in the case of CSPG, spheronized at a nearby facility. The largest size fractions will be sent to a lab in Chicago for DEXDG production, while a partially purified fraction will be sent to Buffalo, NY for high temperature furnace testing.
As part of the pilot program, Westwater will measure all inputs, such as energy and reagents, as well as all outputs, to ensure these high-performance battery graphite products are manufactured in a way that doesn’t cause harm to the Company’s employees, to the communities in which it works and in the surrounding environment. These measurements will be used in the Bankable Feasibility Study to be completed by mid-year 2021; this study will include plans for the final design of the commercial production facility and is expected to be the basis for the construction of the facility from mid-2021 through 2022. Plant commissioning is expected in Q4 2022. Westwater’s pilot plant battery graphite products will be tested for performance at labs in Germany and the United States.
“The Coosa Graphite Project is perfectly timed to take advantage of the advances in the electrification of our transportation system and grid electricity storage for renewable energy here in the United States and the rest of the world,” Mr. Jones added. “These systems need graphite as a critical ingredient. Our development plan puts battery graphite in the marketplace and accelerates Westwater’s path to cash flow. We are getting our foot in the door early.”
Graphite purification patent application
Westwater has applied for a Provisional Patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its proprietary graphite purification technology. This proprietary process, which does not utilize hydrofluoric acid, is a purification methodology with a more sustainable footprint than those currently used in China and elsewhere. This purification process is an integral component of the Company’s pilot plant program, which was announced on August 20, 2020.
The invention claimed in the provisional patent application relates to a method of obtaining highly purified graphite – having a graphitic carbon (Cg) grade of at least 99.95% – from a natural flake graphite concentrate sample. The method comprises three steps:
(1) caustic roasting of the graphite concentrate sample;
(2) acid leaching of the roasted sample; and
(3) thermal treatment of the sample.
Additional steps involving water washing and drying are included in some methods. The methods provided in the application may further include any combination of varying the weight percentage of the caustic solution, varying the temperature of and time for the caustic roasting, varying the temperature of and time for the acid leaching, and/or varying the temperature of, time for, and the atmosphere used in the thermal treatment.
Westwater will provide updates on this exciting project over the coming weeks and months.