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Nano One wants to be the power behind low-cost, high-performance battery materials

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  • Achieved an “exceptional” breakthrough in creating a high voltage lithium-ion battery cell with a significant cycle life
  • Patented One-Pot process produces a precursor that forms quickly into a single-crystal cathode along with its protective coating
  • Partnered with global firms, including Pulead, Volkswagen, and Saint-Gobain

What Nano One Materials does:

Nano One Materials Corp (CVE:NNO) (OTCMKTS:NNOMF) is a Canadian technology company that designs the materials used in lithium-ion batteries.

The Vancouver-based company has an industrial process for producing low-cost, high-performance cathode powders and a wide range of other advanced nanostructured composites. The materials are being designed to add value to electric vehicles (EVs) and grid-storage batteries in the global push for a zero-emission future. 

The company’s patented three-stage process uses equipment that is common in the industry and is being engineered for high-volume production and rapid commercialization. Nano One’s method combines materials at the atomic level instead of the industry-standard which involves mechanically melting, grinding, and milling materials.

The company has built its own demonstration pilot plant, funded with the assistance of the Canadian government. Nano One also has partnered with global firms, including Pulead, Volkswagen, and Saint-Gobain, in the lithium battery supply chain to advance its lithium iron phosphate (LFP), lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), and lithium nickel manganese oxide (LNM) cathode technologies.

Nano One’s patented One-Pot process combines the metals, lithium, additives, and coatings in a single reaction, which, when dried and fired, produces a precursor that forms quickly into a single-crystal cathode along with its protective coating.

Traditional cathodes consist of a dense cluster of crystalline particles, known as polycrystalline, created by forming clusters of NMC precursor, milling that with lithium and firing it in a kiln. The problem is that the clusters can expand, contract, and break apart after repeated charging, fracturing the outer coating and exposing the crystals to potentially dangerous side reactions. The One-Pot process solves this problem.

How is it doing:

Nano One marked the start of 2021 by updating its One-Pot process technology to reduce costs, waste, and carbon emissions for the lithium-ion battery supply chain.

The company adapted its One-Pot process to be used in a so-called “metal to cathode active material” (M2CAM) initiative. This will allow cathode materials used in lithium-ion batteries to be made direct from metal using powder feedstocks rather than metal sulfates or other salts. Using sulfates is a long, complicated, wasteful process, with margins added at each stage.

Patents for the M2CAM process are currently pending and preliminary tests are showing battery capacity up to 5% higher than with cathode materials currently made from metal salts.

This innovation addresses the growing ESG (environmental social governance) calls in the industry as its One-Pot process eliminates the need for costly and energy-intensive conversion of nickel, cobalt, and manganese to sulfate. Among other advantages to the method, it eliminates the shipment of large quantities of water and sulfur, lowering energy, emissions, and costs of shipping by four to five times.

Also, on top of that recent development, Nano One has completed the first two phases of a joint development agreement announced in August 2020 with an Asia-based developer of cathode materials.

Thus far, the process has centered on LNMO cathode materials (lithium nickel manganese oxide). With validation from both parties, the work is now shifting to scale-up considerations, detailed economic analysis, third-party evaluation, and preliminary planning for commercialization.

Ultimately, the agreement provides a mechanism for the commercialization of cathode materials, whether through a joint venture, licensing of Nano One’s technology, and/or through further development work. 

Companies are utilizing Nano One’s patented One-Pot process to develop high-performance LNMO cathode materials. The materials, also known as high voltage spinel (HVS), are of increasing global interest and have great potential in next-generation lithium-ion batteries for EVs, renewable energy storage, and consumer electronic devices.

LNMO also has an operating voltage that is 25% higher than commercial high nickel cathodes, meaning fewer cells are necessary, while providing improved productivity, efficiency, thermal management, and power.

Nano One also is looking to use the LNMO/HVS technology as a way to develop solid-state batteries via a collaboration with the University of Michigan. The benefit of solid-state batteries is that they replace flammable liquid electrolytes with a solid interface between the cathode and the anode.

Meanwhile, the company’s One-Pot process has attracted attention in Chile, which is a major lithium producer. The Chilean Clean Technology Institute is currently evaluating the technology. Nano also is working with a multinational auto manufacturer that is studying cathode materials for use in automotive lithium-ion batteries. 

As Nano One advances its technology, it recently raised $28.9 million for the expansion of its pilot plant and additional research and development. It also appointed Alex Holmes, the former chief executive of lithium and uranium group Plateau Energy Metals Inc (CVE:PLU), as its chief operating officer.

Inflection points: 

  • Expanding growth in EV and battery storage markets
  • Possible licensing/royalty, JV, and M&A deals

What the boss says:

“The work under this agreement is on schedule and on budget, and the LNMO materials have met phase one and two metrics for performance and economics,” said Nano One CEO Dan Blondal, commenting on the company’s work with the Asia-based developer of cathode materials.

“This partnership is built on trust and a common vision to launch a differentiated and sustainable cathode materials business and we are pleased to be reporting measurable progress towards these goals and the continued execution of our business plans.”

Contact the author: [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @PatrickMGraham

Story by ProactiveInvestors


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