IN FOCUS: NANO ONE MATERIALS CORP. AND ITS TECHNOLOGY AND APPLICATIONS IN THE ENERGY STORAGE SUPPLY CHAINThe alphaDIRECT Insight
Nano One Material has developed a new processing technology for the way cathode powders are used for liquid and solid electrolyte-based lithium ion batteries. The technology makes the full range of cathode materials and improves both costs and performance, in our view. We believe Nano One’s technology differs from conventional processes available in the market today. Specifically, the company uses an innovative process technology that combines all ingredients in a single water-based reaction before drying and heating the material in a furnace. This simplified chemical process enables Nano One to produce a homogeneous mixture of lithium and other metals at the atomic level which form crystal structures earlier in the process. By using its technology, Nano One manages to simplify many various steps during the process, reduce time in the furnace and eliminate waste streams. According to the company, this process enables the use of lower cost feedstock, drives down processing costs and improves performance. We believe this is an ROI driven technology and provides a unique opportunity for investors to participate in the upstream portion of what we believe is one of the biggest megatrends in the market today – energy storage.
Shawn Severson: First I’d like to thank you, Dan, for taking the time to speak with us. Today we’re covering Nano One Materials and your technology in the upstream part of the energy storage supply chain. However, before we dig into the topic, can you start by giving us a brief introduction of yourself and your team?
Dan Blondal: It’s a pleasure to be here. I am CEO and a founder of Nano One Materials. I’m an engineer and have been involved with materials, mining and a range of technologies that span medical devices, digital printing, nuclear fusion and batteries. During my career, I’ve worked in startups and very large companies. At Nano One, we have a twenty-person technical team led by Dr. Stephen Campbell who is our Chief Technology Officer and he heralds 25 years of working in the battery and fuel cell space with Ballard Power Systems and its Ford– Daimler spinoff, AFCC. Stephen is a world class electrochemist with considerable experience in the industrialization of electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
On the market side, President and co-founder, John Lando, brings 26 years of capital markets experience and our Chairman, Paul Matysek, who has generated over two billion dollars of enterprise value through buying and selling companies, such as Lithium X and Lithium One.
Shawn Severson: Thank you very much, Dan. Before you get into the details of Nano One’s specific technology, can you provide a basic overview of battery technology and the role the cathode plays in a conventional and a solid-state lithium ion battery?
Dan Blondal: Without diving too heavily into details, it is important to know that a lithium ion battery has a positive and negative electrode. The cathode is a ceramic powder coated onto aluminum foil and is made from lithium, cobalt, nickel and other metals. For instance, lithium cobalt batteries (LCO) address the need for thin, compact smart phones. Lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt (NMC) are used in long range electric vehicles and lithium, iron and phosphate (LFP) are used to address safety and cost in electric buses and shorter range EVs.
The other electrode is the anode and is typically made from graphite coated onto a piece of copper foil. The anode and cathode foils are laminated together with a separator, folded into a flat cell or rolled into a cylindrical cell before being soaked in liquid electrolyte and sealed. Charging and discharging the battery moves the lithium between electrodes.
A solid-state battery replaces the liquid electrolyte with a solid electrolyte made of glass, ceramic or polymer-based material. There’s still a need for cathode materials, but solid electrolytes do have the potential to eliminate graphite, separators and flammable liquids, while enabling an ultrathin lithium anode, for safer and thinner batteries. It is really the Holy Grail of batteries. It is still a lithium ion battery with pretty much the same range of cathode materials, albeit tweaked to interface with specific solid electrolytes.
Nano One has developed technology to improve the way all of these cathode powders are made, targeting both cost and performance. The processing technology makes the full range of cathode materials for use in liquid and solid electrolyte-based lithium ion batteries.