Westwater Resources, Inc., Centennial, Colorado, United States, (NASDAQ: WWR), an energy materials development company, has provided an update on progress at its pilot plant operations at Dorfner Anzaplan’s facilities near Amberg, Germany, as well as at facilities in Frankfurt-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 Westwater battery-grade graphite products: ULTRA-PMG™, ULTRA-CSPG™ and ULTRA-DEXDG™, which were previously produced at a bench scale.
The Westwater pilot plant operations are being conducted to inform and enhance design work for the full-scale production facility, and to produce products for testing by potential customers. On October 9, 2020, the Company announced it had taken delivery of 30 metric tonnes of natural flake graphite concentrate at Dorfner Anzaplan’s facility. The concentrate was purchased under the Company’s long-term graphite supply agreement.
“I am extremely pleased with our team’s performance in all aspects of our pilot plant operations,” said Chris Jones, CEO of Westwater Resources. “Our team has worked diligently to design the pilot plant that will leverage Westwater’s unique battery graphite process and deliver products suitable for customer testing. We expect that the delivery of product for customer testing and the design of a full production-scale facility will be opportunities for Westwater to build on its recent success and further enhance shareholder value.”
“Core to our pilot plant program is our measurement of all inputs, such as energy and reagents, as well as all outputs, to ensure these high-performance battery-grade graphite products are manufactured in a manner that does not cause harm to our employees, to our communities and to the environment,” Jones continued. “We will use these measurements in our Bankable Feasibility Study, which we expect to complete by mid-2021. The feasibility study will include plans for the final design of the commercial production facility and will be the basis for the construction of the facility from mid-2021 through 2022. We expect to commission the commercial plant in the fourth quarter of 2022.”
The Pilot Plant Progress
Four processes (reviewed below) will be demonstrated through the operation of the pilot plant. These environmentally sound processes, when properly integrated, will produce battery-grade graphite for the growing EV (Electric Vehicle) and other battery markets. Graphite is essential to battery construction, and there are no domestic US sources for this important material.
Purification is the first step in processing battery-grade graphite. Our proprietary process is the subject of an application for a patent with the US Patent Office. In early December 2020, we anticipate that we will have finished the first stage of purification for 8 metric tonnes of battery-grade graphite. We expect that the remaining stages will be finished in January 2021, producing a total of 15 metric tonnes of purified material for delivery to the remaining steps in the process. Our engineering partner, Dorfner Anzaplan, is supervising the purification effort utilizing experts at its facility near Hirshau, Germany, and contracted facilities elsewhere in Germany. As well, high temperature processes are being tested in upstate New York utilizing an experienced design team for inclusion in our Bankable Feasibility Study, set to be complete at mid-year 2021.
Purified Micronized Graphite (PMG) production is scheduled for late December at the Netzsch Group’s facilities in Frankfurt, Germany, under the supervision of experts at Dorfner Anzaplan. This part of our process involves sizing and sorting into four size ranges from 5 to 45 microns. Approximately 5 metric tonnes of finished PMG is expected to be produced by the end of January for internal performance testing and, once proven to perform, will be available for customer performance testing and qualification.
Spheronized Purified Graphite (SPG) production is scheduled to be complete in January 2021 also at the Netzsch Group’s facilities in Frankfurt, Germany, under the supervision of experts at Dorfner Anzaplan. This part of our process involves rounding the natural graphite flakes into small sphereoids and sorting them into three size ranges from 10 to 35 microns. Approximately 3.5 metric tonnes of finished SPG is expected to be produced for coating and internal performance testing. This Coated Spheronized Purified Graphite (CSPG), once proven to perform, will be available for customer performance testing and qualification.
Delaminated Expanded Graphite (DEXDG) is our high-performance development product for all types of batteries. It is used as a conductivity enhancer. We expect to make approximately 2 metric tonnes in various sizes by the end of January utilizing an expert lab in the United States. We have successfully made DEXDG using processes that will be tested at the pilot scale level. We expect 1 metric ton of DEXDG to be produced by the end of January 2021. Once performance testing is complete on the pilot plant DEXDG product, we will be in a position to send samples to prospective customers.
- Our process produces three battery-grade graphite materials, broadening our markets to all types of batteries, rather than relying upon a single battery product line to provide economics.
- Our process does not use harmful hydrofluoric acid like our Chinese competitors.
- Off-spec materials generated by our Coated Spherical Graphite process will be utilized to bolster our Purified Micronized Graphite production.
About Westwater Resources
Westwater Resources (NASDAQ: WWR) is focused on developing energy-related materials. The Company’s battery-materials projects include the Coosa Graphite Project — the most advanced natural flake graphite project in the contiguous United States — and the associated Coosa Graphite Deposit located across 41,900 acres (~17,000 hectares) in east-central Alabama. Pilot plant operations are expected to produce ULTRA-PMG™, ULTRA-DEXDG™ and ULTRA-CSPG™ in quantities that facilitate qualification testing at potential customers.