It never stops at Nano One (TSX:NANO). Last month we were mulling over which major multinational auto company Nano One is talking to about a cathode evaluation agreement; this month the company is in discussions with none other than the Chilean Clean Technology Institute about a joint project with Associated Universities Inc.
Nano One is a specialist in battery materials technology, an area of industry that is becoming hotter by the week. If you are interested in hearing more about the company, make sure you read our initial analysis from December 2019 and then follow that by listening to our podcast with CEO Dan Blondal.
New project to focus on low cobalt cathodes in Chile
The new project looks very interesting. It involves making a nickel-rich low cobalt cathode direct from Chilean-sourced lithium carbonate.
AUI was announced as the winning bid by the Corporación de Fomento de la Producción de Chile (CORFO) Council on January 4 2021 to build, manage and operate the Institute.
It fits Nano One’s modus operandi of partnering with bigger entities to help them to realise sustainable battery materials goals. It is already working with big names like Volkswagen and China’s Pulead. Other companies are also licensing technology from Nano One, but sadly the company is not able to disclose their names. We think if it did, the stock would be trading higher.
This is a bid to build a clean tech institute and bring innovative start ups and ideas through the program to add value in solar, mining sustainability and advanced materials to Chile. This is key to long term growth for Nano One – the company is at the table with full support from CORFO and a strong consortium of players positioning for that infrastructure movement, among them the likes of Ballard Power Systems and Schwager Energy.
Nano One is bringing a lot to the table on the ESG front as there is sensitivity around water usage, with local focus on there being no waste streams and directly bringing added value to Chile’s major resource, lithium carbonate for high nickel cathode applications.
“Chile is one of the largest lithium producers in the world by making lithium carbonate from brine resources in the Atacama desert,” explains Blondal. “We have proposed to ICTL a demonstration of Nano One’s patented One Pot process using lithium carbonate directly for the production of nickel-rich cathode materials. Our innovation avoids the need for lithium hydroxide, the costs of the required conversion plants and the associated consumption of water and energy.”
Sustainable supply chains are at the core of Nano One proposal
Lithium carbonate eliminates issues related to shelf-life and corrosion making it easier-to-handle and less costly. These advantages could disrupt the supply chain and lead to increased demand for lithium carbonate and are at the core of the proposal Nano One have made to the Chilean Clean Technology Institute.
Nano One’s technology offers the flexibility to use either lithium carbonate or hydroxide. This is enabled by mixing lithium with all other metal inputs in Nano One’s patented One Pot reaction to produce a fully-lithiated mixed-metal intermediate powder that is neither carbonate nor hydroxide, allowing it to form finished cathode powder when thermally processed in a furnace.
In contrast to this, conventional methods form mixed-metal intermediate powders that must then be milled and thermally processed with lithium hydroxide powders because the required furnace temperatures are not compatible with lithium carbonate. The way battery materials are sourced and made is coming up the agenda for suppliers and processors of the raw materials that are going into next generation batteries.
Nano One has stayed firmly on The Armchair Trader pick list since we first picked up on it back in December 2019. At the time the stock was quoted at 1.13. At the end of December it was trading at 6.09, a gain of +439%. We think this is a real testament to the company’s strong suit of IP in the battery materials space.