Many North Americans are feeling pain at the gas pump, and this may be the beginning of a new swell in interest for electric vehicles. One of the obstacles in mass EV production is battery technology; today we’re discussing the potential of bringing graphite production back home with V-Bond Lee, Chief Technology Officer of Volt Carbon Technologies (TSXV: VCT).
Graphite Critical For Battery Production
Graphite, says Lee, is a critical battery mineral. The governments of Canada and the US have both recognized its importance in making energy storage devices.
But the way graphite is currently sourced begins in China, with highly toxic processes that are extremely harmful to the environment. Shipping materials back and forth overseas for production only compounds that.
Beyond the environmental concerns, because of the old processes, the tailings from such production plants also must be carefully managed. For a new graphite processing plant, this would come at great costs to the company, probably to the tune of 70 million.
Volt Carbon Technologies Looks At Graphite Separation Using Air
Instead of crushing graphite and using acids to extract it from other materials, Volt Carbon Technologies has a system that can extract flake graphite from aggregate using aerodynamics.
That’s right; Volt Carbon Technologies uses only air to separate graphite from other aggregate.
Not only does this reduce some of the processes required to prepare graphite for traditional refinement, it also completely eliminates the graphite’s company use of water in the refinement process. Traditional processes require three or four circuits through floatation and then a period of drying.
So no water bill, no tailings equipment or management, no toxic liquid to process into something safe enough to release with the air separation system. For a new graphite refining company, this new process could substantially reduce CAPEX, says Lee, because not only do tailings not have to be managed, the graphite remains dry.
Lee believes Volt Carbon Technologies Can ‘Easily’ Get Graphite Purities Over 90%
While the new process is not yet perfected, “we easily hit 80% [purity] on the first try,” says Lee. “And then from there, we do some improvements to the processes. And we’ve seen the potential of hitting over 90%.”
What does this mean for investors? The possibility of making it easier to bring some of these production companies home. “With our process, you know, with these advantages, I think it just makes it easier for us to refine graphite here in North America,” says Lee.
Ontario And Quebec Could Become Giants In The Graphite Industry
If environmental consciousness is at the forefront, global shipping of raw goods may be the first casualty. But that may be good news for Canada.
“There are really good graphite ore bodies between Quebec and Ontario,” says Lee. Geology has created great deposits of graphite in both provinces, and as EV production picks up, Volt Carbon Technology’s idea of local sourcing might make a great deal of sense to companies looking to save money on environmental management.
Watch the full interview above to hear more about the potential savings that might drive consumer investment in EV.