Lithium Australia subsidiary VSPC reports significant progress towards improving the energy density of LFP (lithium ferro phosphate) Li-ion battery cells by adjusting its proprietary manufacturing processes to incorporate manganese into the cathode active material during production. The addition of manganese to LFP (producing LMFP) improves LFP energy density while retaining its superior attributes.
VSPC has successfully produced LMFP battery cells for testing. These cells, by virtue of their higher voltage, provide up to 25% greater energy density than that of standard LFP cells.
The discharge curves for cells manufactured from VSPC-produced LFP (left) and VSPC-produced LMFP (right).
Globally, major LFP cell producers are striving to achieve similar increases in energy density by introducing manganese as a component of their cathode powder.
LIBs can be divided into a number of categories based on the crystal structure of the cathode materials they contain. Currently, the types of LIBs most commonly used in EVs are nickel-cobalt manganese (NCM) and nickel cobalt aluminum (NCA). Both NCM and NCA have a spinel (oxide) structure characterized by relatively low-strength chemical bonds.
LFP and LMFP, on the other hand, are composed of phosphates (olivine-like crystal structures) with exceptionally high bond strengths. It is this fundamental physical property that results in the superior characteristics (including thermal stability and long service life) of LFP- and LMFP-type LIBs.
VSPC earlier this year announced plans to develop a rapid-charge battery for transportation applications. The recent success in testing LMFP cells demonstrates the potential for VSPC’s patented manufacturing process to synthesize LMFP for these applications, the company said. Due to its higher energy density, LMFP should reduce the range anxiety associated with standard LFP formulations designed for EVs.
Being able to produce high-performance LIBs without the requirement for nickel or cobalt has many advantages, safety being paramount. Beyond that, the use of common bulk commodities such as manganese, iron and phosphorus reduces costs.
VSPC’s active program to reduce costs even further includes its evaluation of industrial waste materials as feed, as well as the production of cathode-material precursors derived from spent LIBs.
Commercialisation of LMFP for the production of LIBs would eliminate the requirement for materials from regions in which human rights abuse (including the use of child labor) is rife.
Moreover, using materials derived from industrial waste materials and spent batteries to create precursors for new LFP- or LMFP-type LIBs can enhance sustainability and reduce supply chain risk, the company suggested.
Lithium Australia aims to ensure an ethical and sustainable supply of energy metals to the battery industry (enhancing energy security in the process) by creating a circular battery economy. The recycling of old lithium-ion batteries to new is intrinsic to this plan.
While rationalizing its portfolio of lithium projects/alliances, the company continues with R&D on its proprietary extraction processes for the conversion of all lithium silicates (including mine waste), and of unused fines from spodumene processing, to lithium chemicals. From those chemicals, Lithium Australia plans to produce advanced components for the battery industry globally, and for stationary energy storage systems within Australia.
By uniting resources and innovation, the Company seeks to vertically integrate lithium extraction, processing and recycling.