NanoXplore Inc., a leading graphene company, announced that it was the winning bidder for a significant portion of the assets of XG Sciences Inc, a developer of silicon-graphene anode materials (earlier post), in a sale conducted by XG’s senior secured creditor pursuant to Article 9 of Michigan’s enactment of the Uniform Commercial Code. XG Sciences ceased operations in July 2022.
NanoXplore and the senior creditor have entered into an asset purchase agreement pursuant to which NanoXplore is acquiring XG’s mechanical milling platform, research and development lab and all issued and pending patents and trademarks, among other items. The payment of this transaction is paid in cash without any share issuance.
Founded in 2006, XG Sciences specialized in the production of graphene nanoplatelets and the formulations of advanced materials that amplify product performance across diverse applications such as Lithium-ion battery anode materials, automotive, packaging, composites, concrete, and other industrial markets.
While operating, XG worked with leading companies such as Ford for noise reduction and light-weighting using graphene-enhanced PU foam as well as Callaway Golf Company for graphene-enhanced golf balls.
XG has been a respected competitor of ours for years, and the integration of their assets will further support the growth of NanoXplore. This acquisition accelerates our participation in the battery material space and significantly increases our intellectual property related to graphene and graphene-enhanced battery materials.—Soroush Nazarpour, President and CEO, NanoXplore
XG Sciences has a high-quality patent portfolio in strong end-markets and its additives have attractive features and performance in the battery anode material, particularly in next generation solid-state battery chemistries. As a result of the transaction, NanoXplore now owns all patents and patent applications including a portfolio of 7 patents (6 issued and 1 pending) of silicon-graphene battery materials and all XG trademarks.
NanoXplore is planning to move all the assets from Lansing, Michigan to Canada to establish a dedicated battery material R&D facility. Moreover, NanoXplore is planning to use these assets to build a silicon-graphene anode material facility with a production capacity of 100-200 tons per year during 2023.
As demonstrated by the XG Sciences asset purchase transaction, NanoXplore is seeking to expand and accelerate its downstream market access in the attractive battery anode material market.
Market research firm IDTechEx, which has been investigating the nanocarbon industry for more than a decade, said that the graphene market is showing the first signs of consolidation following the rapid growth of the number of players..
XG Sciences was one of the earliest and most prominent graphene players, IDTechEx said. XG developed various exfoliation processes that produce a range of products, although typically with a thickness far greater than the ISO definition of a graphene nanoplatelet (GNP). XG Sciences established a notable capacity and had several announced commercial engagements from Callaway (golf balls), Grays Hockey (hockey sticks), Niagara Bottling (plastic bottles), and most notably, Ford. There were also previous announcements, including an MoU with Sinochem Plastics and Yuyao PGS.
The news shows not only the consolidation but also the challenges facing graphene manufacturers, many of whom have never been profitable and depend on public or private funding for their cash flow, IDTechEx said.
Non-graphene-related subsidiaries, adjacent business, or being part of a larger parent company can also help financially support and strategically position graphene players, but this may well send an industry-wide warning. In a new report, “Graphene Market & 2D Materials Assessment 2023-2033”, IDTechEx provides a comprehensive, interview-based analysis of the graphene manufacturers.
A major topic of conversation among companies and professionals within the graphene industry is the identification of the killer application for the material. Early penetration has been seen in areas such as thermal management materials, but this is a smaller addressable market than others that are being targeted. A parallel can be seen for multi-walled carbon nanotubes, a material that has seemingly found its killer application as a conductive additive battery cathode. This has seen several major players in the chemical and material sector enter the market either by building a facility or through M&A activity, such as LG Chem, which recently announced plans to build a fourth CNT manufacturing plant, IDTechEx pointed out.
IDTechEx projects a similar trend for material suppliers within the graphene industry. Consolidation of major players is predicted to see more uniform and reliable products produced at a lower price point, enabling penetration to the market. On the other hand, material demand on the back of a breakthrough killer application could see major multinational chemical and material manufacturers to enter the industry.