Graphite Growth Markets

Graphite Market

Lithium Ion Batteries

The anode in Li ion batteries (LiBs”) is made out of graphite. A graphite anode is one of the things that make it a LiB and there are no substitutes. LiBs are smaller, lighter and more powerful than traditional batteries and have a flat voltage profile meaning they provide almost full power until discharged. They also have no memory effect and a very low rate of discharge when not in use. Almost all portable consumer devices such as laptops, cell phones, MP3 players and cameras use Li ion batteries and they are now rapidly moving into power tools and bigger devices. This has lead to 20% annual growth in the LiB market.

This growth rate is expected to continue as hybrid electric vehicles (“HEV”), plug in electric vehicles (“PEV”) and all electric vehicles (“EV”), and grid storage applications, are huge markets that are all in their infancy. This has significant implications for the LiB and graphite markets. The batteries are large and the potential demand for graphite very significant. By weight, graphite is the largest component in LiBs and they contain 10-15 times more graphite than lithium. Because of losses in the manufacturing process, it actually takes over 30 times as much graphite to make the batteries.

There is up to 10 kgs of graphite in the average HEV and up to 70 kgs in an EV. There is far more in a Tesla Model S. Every million EVs, which is about 1% of the new car market, require in the order of 75,000 tonnes of natural graphite to make the batteries which represents a potential ten per cent increase in flake graphite demand. Because of the small size of the flake graphite market, even modest, conservative EV adoption rates will have a big effect on demand. LiB manufacturing capacity currently under construction would require flake graphite production to more than double by 2025.

The anode material used in LiBs, called spherical graphite (“SPG”), is manufactured from either flake graphite concentrates produced by graphite mines or from synthetic graphite. Only flake graphite which can be economically rounded and upgraded to 99.95% purity can be used. The manufacturing process includes micronization, rounding, purification and heat treatment. The process is expensive and wastes up to 70% of the flake graphite feed. As a result, uncoated spherical graphite currently sells for up to USD3,000/tonne or over three times the price of large flake graphite. Coated spherical graphite sells for USD$4,000 to $12,000 per tonne depending on quality and end market.

Almost all Li ion battery manufacturing currently takes place in China because of the ready availability of graphite, weak environmental standards and low costs. Secure, cost competitive and environmentally sustainable source of graphite are needed in the west.


How a Lithium Ion Battery Works

About Spherical Graphite

Green Car Congress

Lithium Ion Battery

Battery Electric Vehicle


All the Mines Tesla Needs to Build 20M Cars per Year

GM Considering Second US Battery Plant

Volkswagen’s $29 billion Answer to Tesla

GM will answer Tesla with $20 billion EV push

China to build Europe’s largest battery storage facility

China raises 2025 EV sales target to about 25 per cent

Daimler (Mercedes) committing $23 billion to EVs

SK considering additional investment in US battery plant

Tesla to Replace Lead Acid Starter Batteries

GM to go All Electric by 2035

SK quadruples battery cell capacity

BLM advances $1 billion battery backed solar project in Nevada

Chinese batteries have lower energy density

SDGE unveils world’s largest LiB energy storage facility

Posco to build anode material production facility

BMW secures raw material supply for its battery supply

Biggest batteries coming soon to a grid near you

Europe set to race past US in battery manufacturing

Volkswagen Follows Tesla into Battery Business

Volvo Picks CATL, LG Chem to Suppy Batteries for EVs

Tesla Model 3 Europe’s Best Selling EV in its First Month

Megafactories on Automakers Minds – Volkswagon Needs Batteries

California Committs Billions to Advance EV Programs

SK Innovation Breaks Ground for First Cell Factory in US

A Behind the Scenes Take on Lithium ion Battery Prices

Korean EV Manufacturers Losing Market Share

Nikola Motor introduces heavy-duty hydrogen-electric truck

Plans for electric vehicle battery production in Europe

Billion euro package mobilizes German Battery Sector

World Bank unveils battery storage “game changer”

Battery manufacturers fight for foothold in Europe

Mazda to develop 12 volt lithium ion starter batteries

EV battery factory race heats up in Europe

The wait is over. The battery revolution is here

The Electric Vehicle Battery Industry in China

Toyota to market over 10 battery EV models in early 2020s

The Cobalt Cliff, Two Dire Warnings And A Musk Soliloquy

Miner’s Revenge’ Is Coming With Electric Cars, Friedland Says

China Plans Graphite Megafactories to Meet Booming Demand for Battery Storage

Switching From Lithium-Ion Could Be Harder Than You Think

India about to embark on the most ambitious electric-car transformation in the world

South Korea plans Li-on push in face of China sanctions

Seoul charging ahead as carmakers go electric

Largest utility-scale battery plan for Massachusetts

Volkswagen Group new Roadmap

CATL to Start Gigafactory

VW Unveils $60 billion Battery Investment Plan

Giant Trucks and Buses Smash Electric Vehicle Records

Chinese Battery Production Could Leave Tesla in the Dust

Mercedes-Benz heads to China to build $740M EV battery factory

10 Battery Gigafactories Are Now in the Works and Elon Musk May Add 4 More

China Is About to Bury Elon Musk in Batteries

China’s new energy vehicle sales surge in May

Honda to focus on PHEVs, EVs and fuel cell vehicles to electrify 2/3 of sales by 2030

Storage’s time ‘is coming’ as prices fall

Daimler begins construction on a $562 million lithium-ion battery factory in Germany

GM plans to launch 10 electric cars in China by 2020

LG Chem Launches Range of Residential Battery Systems in NA

Batteries at heart of UK electricity supply transformation

China’s anti-Teslas: cheap models drive electric car boom

China threat sparks Hitachi’s four-fold graphite anode expansion

Tesla aims to sustain purity of car batteries, but can any company be sure?

Chinese Electric Car Battery Maker Charges for Global Market

35 States to Boost Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Mercedes Benz Launches US Energy Storage Company

Daimler Adds to its Battery Capability

Chinese lead player Sacred Sun puts big money into lithium

Production of Lithium Starter Batteries to Commence

Firm attempts to usurp lead with LiFePO4 starter batteries

What Lies Ahead for Lithium Ion

ABB Sells First Order for 15-Second Bus Charging

US to create nationwide network of EV charging stations

Growing lithium trend threatens to usurp lead-acid

China receives 80% of industry investment as it triples lithium-ion production

Large lithium-ion battery demand will drive shortage as e-vehicles and ESS popularity grows

Lithium-air still a decade away from usurping lithium-ion

Graphite demand from lithium ion batteries to more than treble in 4 years

Global plug-in light vehicle sales increased by about 80% in 2015

Top EV Battery Producers

NiMH ‘will not feature in future EVs

Battery researcher partnered with Tesla to receive Governor-General’s Innovation Award

Lithium-ion production fell massively short

Chinese lead-acid firms embrace lithium with a vengeance

Here’s How Electric Cars Will Cause the Next Oil Crisis

US energy storage up 243% as utilities embrace lithium-ion battery power

Electric cars no longer held back by crappy, expensive batteries

China to install thousands of EV charging stations

Game Change: Tesla And GM Announce Affordable, Long-Range Electric Cars

Samsung Invests $2.51 Billion into Car Battery Business

Bosch lithium-ion battery to replace lead-acid

EV market to drive lithium-ion battery prices down

The Nordic EV-stock surpasses 85.000 in Q3 of 2015

BMW i expanding Fast Charge program; 500 more fast chargers in US

Hyundai launching new brand of electrified vehicles: hybrid first, then PHEV and EV

BYD to raise $2.4billion to boost battery and EV growth

GM Announces Largest Lithium Battery Energy Storage Deal in its History

Global market for automotive Li-ion batteries to hit $30.6 billion in 2024; almost 4x 2015 market

GE Signs Largest Battery Storage Deal to Date

LG Chem Might Overtake EV Battery Leader Panasonic

LG Chem Secures EV Battery Deal

Daimler to Offer Energy Storage System

Largest North American LiB Transport Supply Contract

Google Joins the Next Generation Battery Race

Saft leads the way in lithium-ion energy storage for smart city and clean tech applications

Toyota wants hybrids to account for half of sales in Japan by next year

China Automaker BYD Sees Profits Jump On Stronger Electric Vehicle Demand

Virgin working on electric cars

A123 Systems introduces Li-ion 12V starter battery

Mercedes-Benz to introduce 10 plug-in hybrids by 2017

Tesla Faces Threat from Buffet Backed BYD

Renault Samsung jump-starts electric taxi market with EV

German battery giant to quadruple production to 5GWh by 2020

Apple has ‘several hundred’ employees working on Project Titan electric car

“German Gigafactory” Ground Broken On Europe’s Soon-To-Be-Largest Battery Factory

Expandable Graphite

Expandable graphite is one of the fastest growing markets along with Li ion batteries. It is the only graphite market to have experienced price increases over the last couple years and is largely based on XL flake material which is the strength of the Bissett Creek deposit.  It involves treating XL flake graphite with a dilute acid solution and heating it to cause the flakes to split apart, expand and increase hundreds of time in volume.

This material is pressed into sheets to create a foil which can be cut into shapes and used in many applications including thermal management in consumer electronics, high end gaskets that are heat and corrosion resistant, fire retardants, smart building products, flow batteries and fuel cells. Fuel cells are already a billion dollar industry with commercial buses, forklift trucks, standby power plants, etc. already in operation. There are commercial fuel cell cars now and many observers expect them to become more popular more quickly than EVs.

Because of the growth in demand, and declining production from Shandong Province, China, there are now shortages of large/XL flake concentrates.  Prices and margins are high and new sources of supply are required.

Expandable Graphite | Asbury Carbons

Expanded Graphite | SGL CARBON

Graphite Insulfoam Introduced – May 2015

Fuel Cell

A fuel cell is a device that combines a “fuel”, usually hydrogen, with oxygen to generate electricity, with water and heat as its by-product.  A battery is a passive device that stores energy for subsequent use.

Since fuel cells rely on an electrochemical process and not combustion, emissions from fuel cells are significantly lower than emissions from even the cleanest fuel combustion processes. Water and heat are the only by-products. Fuel cells are also much more efficient than combustion engines in converting fuel to energy. Because they have no moving parts, fuel cells are quiet, durable, reliable and long lasting with little maintenance. Fuel cells can be used in both stationary and mobile applications although the latter requires access to a refueling station. For this reason they are most popular in fleet type applications where vehicles return to a central point each day. Use in personal vehicles is expanding as the network of refueling stations expands.

The bi polar plates in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells, one of the most popular technologies, requires large flake, high purity graphite. Fine grained graphite is also used as additives and fillers but this is a relatively small component of fuel cells. It has been estimated that there is more graphite in a fuel cell vehicle than there is in a electric vehicle.

“Fuel cells have the potential to consume as much graphite as all other uses combined” – United States Geological Survey

The major markets for fuel cells (from fuelcells2000) are:

Transportation:  Daimler and Honda are already leasing fuel cell vehicles and are being followed by other automakers like Toyota. Fuel cell buses operate in daily revenue service in California, Texas, Connecticut, Delaware and London England.

Large Stationary Power: Grocery and Retail Establishments, Hospitals, Data Centres, Government Buildings, Corporate Sites, Wastewater Treatment Plants, Jails, Agricultural and Beverage Processing Facilities, and Breweries are using fuel cells from 100 kW to more than 5 MW in capacity for primary power. Stationary fuel cells can be installed as part of the electric grid and can also provide reliable backup power in the event of a grid failure or blackout. This allows critical functions such as hospitals, refrigerators, telecommunications, etc to continue running.

Most large stationary fuel cell systems are fueled by natural gas, but anaerobic digester gas (ADG), derived from wastewater, manufacturing processes, or from crop or animal waste, is being used more frequently as a feedstock. ADG-powered fuel cells are being used at a number of wastewater treatment plants, as well as at breweries and agricultural processing facilities. This up-and-coming resource is counted as a renewable fuel in several states.

Small Stationary Power: Fuel cell systems are increasingly being used to provide reliable, on-site, long-running primary or backup power for telecommunication towers and sites. The fuel cells are quiet, rugged and durable and generate reliable, long-running power at hard-to-access locations or sites that are subject to harsh or inclement weather. They are typically in the range of 1 to 5 kW. Smaller stationary fuel cells are also ideal for residential and small commercial applications.

Portable Power: Small, portable fuel cell units are being used for battery charging and auxiliary power and lighting in everything from military, surveillance and emergency response applications to personal cell phone charging. Fuel cells can replace batteries or generators, lightening the load carried into the field, and providing uninterrupted power and extended run-times to field computers and critical communications equipment.

Materials Handling: The U.S. is the world leader in fuel cell forklifts with more than 4,000 systems either deployed or on order. Customers include Coca-Cola, Walmart and Sysco. Fuel cell forklifts can lower total logistics costs since they operate longer, require minimal refilling and need less maintenance compared to electric forklifts. Batteries are heavy and provide on average six hours of run time, while fuel cells last more than twice as long (12-14 hours). Warehouses and distribution centres can install their own hydrogen fuelling station in-house and fuel cell forklifts take only one to two minutes to refuel, compared to the half hour or longer it takes to change a battery. This also eliminates the need for battery storage and changing rooms, leaving more warehouse space for products. Another key advantage that fuel cell forklifts have over battery-powered ones, in relation to the grocery and food distribution industry, is the ability to perform in freezing temperatures, making them suitable to refrigeration and freezer operations.



Fuel Cell

Fuel Cell Overview – Asbury Carbons


Why Elon Musk is Wrong About Fuel Cells

Soon Fuel Cells Will be Everywhere, Really

Cummins Increases Fuel Cell Investment

Hyundai – Hydrogen Must be Part of the Future

DHL and Street Scooter Present Fuel Cell Van

Audi to Accelerate Fuel Cell Development

Michelin to Form Fuel Cell JV

Chinese City to Build Leading Hydrogen Fuel Base

Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell

Fuel Cell Industry Financials

Hyundai Outlines Fuel Cell Vision 2030

S. Korea Launches New Company to Lead Construction of Hydrogen Infrastructure

Hyundai-Kia Motors to Mass Produce Hydrogen-powered EVs Next Year

Amid global electric-car buzz, Toyota bullish on hydrogen

Fuel Cell Bus Achieves 25,000 Hours of Operation

California’s Hydrogen Refueling Network Adds Three New Stations

Fuel Cell Buses Achieve 25,000 hours of Operation

Toyota to begin demonstration tests of Mirai fuel cell vehicle in China

Fuel cell firm transformed by Amazon deal

Ballard Fuel Cell Buses Exceed 10 million km of Service

Canadian Fuel Cell Sector on Fire

California Energy Commission releases $17.3M funding opportunity for H2 stations

Japan updates hydrogen fuel cell targets

Mercedes-Benz fuel-cell plug-in hybrid SUV coming in 2017

Ballard Power signs deal for production of fuel cell stacks in China; est. $168M over 5 years

Compare Fuel Cell Vehicles

Next-generation Hyundai hydrogen fuel cells due in 2018

Apple, Home Depot Turn to Bloom Energy Fuel Cells

Honda Begins Sales of All-new Clarity Fuel Cell

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell drivers pass million-mile mark

Canadian Fuel Cell Sector On Fire

Vanadium Redox Batteries

Vanadium redox (redox flow) batteries (“VRB”) are large scale storage batteries that are ideal for intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. They can be scaled to very large sizes, they have long lives with little maintenance and they can provide power very quickly. The technology is well established and commercial units are available for home and industrial use.
A vanadium redox battery consists of an assembly of power cells in which the two vanadium based electrolytes are separated by a proton exchange membrane. The two half-cells are additionally connected to storage tanks and pumps so that very large volumes of the electrolytes can be circulated through the cell to generate power. Similar to the PEM fuel cell, the bi polar plates in a vanadium redox battery are made out of graphite. It is estimated that 300 tonnes of graphite are required for every mW/hr of VRB capacity.

There are an increasing number of manufacturers and examples of vanadium redox battery installations. Use of these batteries is price sensitive and will increase as costs come down with higher volumes.


The vanadium redox flow battery, a leading technology in energy storage

South Australia to Host 200Mwh Flow Battery

California Flips Switch on First Grid Connected Flow Battery

Flow Battery Contracts for Energy Storage in Europe and Asia

Flow Batteries for Critical Energy Storage in Botswana

Venture Capital Funding grows for Flow batteries

Flow batteries gaining traction in energy storage market

Six firms join up to fund ‘groundbreaking’ grid-scale redox flow battery

One of world’s largest’ vanadium redox flow batteries installed in China

Flow Batteries Help Power Off-Grid Villages and Remote Telecom

Imergy’s Vanadium Flow Battery Aims to Compete With Lithium and Lead-Acid at Grid Scale

SunEdison buys 1000 flow batteries for Indian microgrids

Imergy launches low-cost flow battery

A Vanadium Flow Battery Brings Energy Storage to New York City’s MTA

Vanadium Flow Batteries Could Become a Cost Effective Solution for Balancing Texas’ Power Grid

Installation of Japan’s gargantuan 60 MWh flow battery system could begin this autumn

HOKKAIDO Electric to Invest in 60mW/h VRB for grid storage

Vandium Redox Gaining Ground in Energy Storage

Upgrading Vanadium Redox batteries

Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactors

A Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (“PBMR”) is a small, modular nuclear reactor.  The fuel is uranium embedded in tennis size balls made out of graphite.  PBMRs have a number of advantages over large traditional reactors.  They have much lower capital and operating costs and use an inert gases rather than water as a coolant. Therefore, they do not need the large, complex water cooling systems of conventional reactors and the inert gases do not dissolve and carry contaminants. Second, a PBMR cools naturally when is shut down and this “passive safety” characteristic removes the need for redundant active safety systems.  Also, PBMRs operate at higher temperatures which makes more efficient use of fuel and they can directly heat fluids for low pressure gas turbines.

China has an operating prototype, is finishing the first two commercial units and has plans to build a number more.  China ultimately plans to build up to 300 gigawatts of reactors and PBMRs are a major part of the strategy.  Small, modular reactors are also very attractive to small population centers or large and especially remote industrial applications.  Companies such as Hitachi are currently working on turn key solutions.

It is estimated that each PBMR requires 300 tonnes of graphite at start up and 60-100 tonnes per year to operate.


Pebble Bed Reactor


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China’s PBMR on track for operation this year January, 2018

Chinese Small Modular Pebble Beds August, 2017

China says it’ll have a meltdown-proof nuclear reactor ready by next year February, 2016

China Could Have a Meltdown-Proof Nuclear Reactor Next Year February, 2016

China set to build world’s first fourth-generation nuclear reactor April, 2015

Construction Progresses on China’s High Temperature Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactor April 9, 2014

Researcher makes Pebble Bed Reactors less of a Black Box April 17, 2013

What to do with 135,000 pebbles: Generate a lot of C02-free safe nuclear power, says South African startup October 12, 2012

Alternative Nuclear Power: Pebble Bed Reactor December 11, 2011

A Radical Kind of Reactor March 24, 2011

The Next Nuclear Plant January 1, 2002

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