Can NEO Battery Materials scale their breakthrough silicon anode material to allow 5-minute rapid EV charging?

Battery technology breakthroughs are happening quite often nowadays as companies focus to improve today’s lithium-ion batteries. Key areas of improvement still needed are improving cost, energy density (range) and charging times. Today’s company looks to have made a significant breakthrough in these areas by improving the anode part of the battery by using silicon nanoparticles uniformly coated by a highly elastic polymer. The silicon anode material provides improvements in capacity and efficiency over lithium-ion batteries using graphite in their anode materials.

The global lithium-ion battery anode materials size is forecast to roughly double in size from 2020 to 2027, rising to a value of US$6.33 billion.

NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM) (“NEO”) is a Canadian battery materials company with a current focus on developing silicon anode materials through an ion- and electronic-conductive polymer nanocoating technology.

Announced on June 7, 2021, NEO reported that they had achieved a 5-minute ultra-fast charging capability using their silicon anode technology. NEO’s Chief Scientific Advisor and Director, Dr. Jong Hyeok Park, stated:

“NEO’s nanocoated silicon anode allows for a safe full charge within 5 minutes, which demonstrates potential for scaling and implementation in larger cells such as those used in high power EV batteries.”

Rapid fast charging an electric vehicle (EV) battery in only 5 minutes would bring EVs in line with conventional car refueling times at the gas station. If achieved at scale and in real world use, it will be a groundbreaking step forward for the EV industry. Judging by Dr. Park’s comment above it looks like he believes the technology has potential to scale successfully for EV use.

Traditionally the problem with silicon based anodes has been that the silicon swells and then damages the battery; however in this case NEO has developed a technology to prevent this. Dr. Jong Hyeok Park commented: “Our unique, proprietary solution integrates silicon nanoparticles uniformly coated by a nanometer-thick elastomer – a highly elastic polymer.”

NEO Battery Materials is moving in the same direction as Tesla by developing better silicon materials for anodes

Source: Company presentation

As a further step to achieve their goal of low cost, fast charging, durable silicon anodes, NEO has recently signed a MOU with South Korean silicon powder manufacturer Korea Metal Silicon Co. (“KMS”). The news release stated:

“Under the terms of the MOU, NEO will closely engage with KMS to collaborate with the intent of pursuing solutions to remove the cost bottleneck associated with nanosilicon powders and to develop manufacturing capabilities to mass produce low-cost nanosilicon powders at a scalable and commercially viable level for NEO’s proprietary silicon anodes. The agreement would help accelerate NEO’s commercialization plans of its silicon anode technology.”

NEO Battery Materials key development timeline includes appointing several expert advisers formerly from leading battery manufacturers Samsung SDI and LG Chem

Source: Company presentation

Next steps

NEO is currently developing a full cell prototype (with proprietary silicon anode material) with their team of top South Korean battery experts. The end goal is to produce at scale an innovative silicon anode material that is cost-effective, mass-producible, and commercially viable.

Closing remarks

NEO has excellent management and a top tier advisory board. This has resulted in a significant breakthrough with their silicon anode material that allows for ultra rapid (5 mins) battery charging by using silicon nanoparticles uniformly coated by a highly elastic polymer. As a next step, NEO and KMS plan to work towards scaling up low cost nano-silicon powders to be used for NEO’s proprietary silicon anode material.

Judging by their success so far I would say NEO is looking like a good chance at success to ultimately scale their silicon anode material business to allow 5 minute rapid EV charging.

NEO Battery Materials trades on a market cap of C$28 million. Exciting times ahead for this small top tier company.

Up 207% over the past year, Ur-Energy’s revenue is ‘forecast’ to rise exponentially in the next 2 years

Uranium prices have grinded higher in 2021 and the outlook has never looked better for U.S uranium miners with forecast uranium deficits in the years ahead. US uranium producers are well placed to benefit from the Biden policies that understand the importance of nuclear and securing uranium. Right now the USA produces virtually zero uranium and is dependent upon Russia (including Russia controlled sources in Kazakhstan) for about 50% of their uranium supply. 20% of U.S electricity relies on nuclear as does much of the U.S Navy fleet.

Ur-Energy Inc. (NYSE American: URG | TSX: URE) is among the top two U.S uranium producers and is a global low cost uranium producer. Ur-Energy operates the Lost Creek in-situ recovery uranium facility in south-central Wyoming, USA, currently on hold due to the uranium prices bear market. The stock is having a stellar year, up 207% over the past year boosted by improving uranium prices and positive uranium policy from the Biden administration.

Ur-Energy’s stock has been rising with the beginning of what looks to be a new uranium bull market

Source: Yahoo finance

An update on Ur-Energy

Over the past year, the Company has been working on their expansion plans. Ur-Energy now has all major permits and authorizations to begin construction at Shirley Basin, the Company’s second in situ recovery uranium facility in Wyoming and is in the process of obtaining remaining amendments to Lost Creek authorizations for expansion of Lost Creek.

At Lost Creek, the mine is currently on care and maintenance awaiting higher uranium prices or suitably priced long term contracts.

Ur-Energy’s revenue is ‘forecast’ to rise exponentially the next 2 years

Based on an online analyst’s forecasts, Ur-Energy is set to grow revenues from US$8 million in 2021 (close to zero in operating profits) to US$24 million in 2022 (US$24 million in operating profits), and to US$75 million in 2023 (US$40 million in operating profits). That’s a tremendous forecast revenue rise and would be mostly due to the anticipated ramp up in uranium production by Ur-Energy, forecast uranium deficits with stronger uranium pricing, and the U.S plan to establish a US$150 million pa U.S. uranium reserve building program over the next 10 years.

Joining the broad-market Russell 3000® Index

Announced on June 7, 2021, Ur-Energy is set to join the broad-market Russell 3000® Index as of June 28, 2021. This is a significant milestone achievement for the Company. Approximately $17.9 trillion is currently benchmarked to FTSE Russell indexes. Ur-Energy Chairman and CEO Jeff Klenda, stated:

“Ur-Energy is excited to be included in the Russell 3000® Index. This listing reflects the significant increase in our market capitalization over the past several months, and our continued effort to build shareholder value. Inclusion in the Russell 3000® is significant as the Russell indexes are widely followed by the investment community. We believe inclusion in the Russell index provides us with the opportunity to expand our shareholder registry as we continue to progress our strategic initiatives and maintain operational readiness until we ramp-up production operations at our Lost Creek Project.”

Closing remarks

All indicators are pointing to higher priced uranium. A key being forecast global deficits the next 5 years+ due to strong demand and constrained supply. Another is that the Biden administration is pro smart nuclear, and the U.S wanting to achieve an independent supply of critical materials such as uranium. The only way to do this is by buying uranium from ally countries or more ideally from U.S producers on long term contracts that are profitable for the miners. Existing U.S demand to feed the U.S’s nuclear reactors and military plus supply to build the reserve are all critical priorities right now for the USA.

Ur-Energy is ideally positioned in the USA to play a very significant part in restoring U.S energy security and the U.S uranium reserve. This helps explain why the stock has already run ahead by 207% in the past year and now trades on a market cap of US$316 million. The stock may well take a short-term pause but the next decade looks very strong for Ur-Energy.

Further learning

Ur-Energy’s Jeff Klenda on Biden’s interest in nuclear energy, US utilities ‘just-in-time deliveries’ for uranium and being the lowest cost producer of uranium in the U.S. (video)

Focused on critical materials, Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp.’s stock price up 674% over the past year

The uranium price is expected to rise higher in future years due to strong global demand for uranium and constrained supply causing deficits. It can therefore make sense for a company to build up uranium reserves ready to sell at better prices in the future.

That’s exactly what Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp. (CSE: WUC | OTCQX: WSTRF) (“Western”) is doing. Not only are they building up a large inventory of uranium and vanadium ore from their 100% owned Sunday Mine Complex they are also now buying uranium to grow their reserves.

Past 25 year uranium price chart – Uranium spot price is currently US$32.70/lb

Source: Trading economics

Announced on June 2, 2021, Western has executed a binding agreement to purchase 125,000 pounds of natural uranium concentrate at the current market price. The triuranium octoxide (U3O8) delivery will take place before June 2022 on a delivery date specified by Western.

Western stated:

“This uranium purchase is among several value-added opportunities the company is pursuing. The transaction has the potential to enhance the balance sheet beyond the purchase cost through uranium price appreciation. This strategic uranium inventory could be held as a long-term investment, used for the 2022 delivery under Western’s existing supply agreement, or facilitate the negotiation of future supply agreements. The basis for this purchase is an acquisition cost substantially below average global uranium production costs.”

The key to this deal is flexibility. If uranium prices were to fall then Western can just use these reserves to satisfy their supply agreements. If however, uranium prices were to rise then Western Uranium is adding value to their balance sheet.

Western stated:

“Western first evaluated holding physical uranium in the summer of 2020 as markets began to acknowledge the growing uranium supply-demand imbalance. A decade of oversupply has stifled the development of new uranium mines which has created an undersupply of uranium/nuclear fuel for the next decade.”

The chart below shows the forecast deficits, which should potentially support stronger uranium prices in the years ahead.

Canaccord Genuity forecasts for continued uranium deficits from 2021 to 2025

Source: Western company presentation

Some background on Western Uranium & Vanadium

Just under a year ago on August 4, 2020, we wrote a compelling piece on Western Uranium & Vanadium, with the closing remarks stating:

“Western Uranium & Vanadium has already done the hard work to prepare their mines as uranium price levels increase and for U.S. government purchase opportunities. Investors can watch the Company or buy now in anticipation. The current market cap is still very cheap at only C$23 million. I expect a good H2 2020 for the Company.

Western’s stock price has done rather well since then as shown below in the chart. Over the past year, the stock is up an impressive 674% (or 7.74x).

Western Uranium & Vanadium past 1 year stock price performance, up 674% (or 7.74x)

Source: Yahoo Finance

Where to from here?

It is always hard to forecast what a stock price will do, but what we can forecast is what a company should achieve in the year ahead. In the case of Western, their Sunday Mine Complex is production-ready, permitted and developed. This is a huge advantage to other low market cap players in the uranium space given that growing a resource, feasibility studies, and permitting can take many years or even over a decade, or can even be unsuccessful. Western has already passed all these hurdles.

At their Sunday Mine Complex Western has minimal CapEx to restart production as the infrastructure has been recently upgraded and the mine workings rehabilitated. Furthermore, Western has an ore stockpile just waiting to be sold, if and when the Company decides to hit the go button. My expectation is that this will be sooner rather than later as uranium prices appear to be steadily recovering. Usually, once a company begins production the stock is re-rated higher.

CEO George Glasier stated in March 2020: “We opened the mines and got them ready this summer. We are ready to go into production. As soon as the market turns a little bit we will be in production.”

A recently oversubscribed private placement raised C$5.1M which Western will use “to secure value-added opportunities, fund follow-on work at the five mines comprising the Sunday Mine Complex, the exploration and development of a second production center and for general corporate and working capital purposes.”

Closing remarks

Nuclear power looks like it is here to stay and U.S President Biden supports a smart nuclear sector in the U.S to supply baseload power (electricity) and U.S military needs. This is also backed up by the government’s policy to establish a US$150 million pa U.S. uranium reserve building program over the next 10 years.

Western Uranium & Vanadium is no longer the extreme bargain stock it was a year ago when the market cap was a ridiculous C$23 million. Today Western’s market cap sits at a more reasonable C$127 million (US$105 million), yet when we compare to the larger U.S uranium producers such as Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU | TSX: EFR) (market cap US$1.03 billion) and Ur-Energy Inc. (NYSE American: URG | TSX: URE) (market cap US$380 million) the stock still looks very attractive on a long term basis, assuming we get strong uranium prices and the mine performs well.

Agreement with IRIS a ‘major breakthrough’ for DIAGNOS path to global commercialization

Did you know that doctors can study the retina of your eye and get an early reading on the condition of your arteries in your body? Going one step further a company has recently completed a successful pilot study for early stroke detection using their AI driven retina analysis technology and is now moving onto clinical trials. According to the World Health Organization, 15 million people suffer a stroke worldwide each year. Of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are permanently disabled. Strokes cause 1 out of every 20 deaths and represent a cost of approximately US$34 billion per year in the United States.

The Company is DIAGNOS Inc. (TSXV: ADK | OTCQB: DGNOF) (“DIAGNOS”). DIAGNOS is a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and healthcare technical services including algorithm development, data analysis, and image processing ever since 2001. DIAGNOS has developed an AI tele-ophthalmology platform known as CARA (Computer Assisted Retina Analysis) to examine patient’s retinas in the eye for the early detection of diseases such as diabetics, hypertension and other cardiovascular disease (including stroke). CARA integrates with existing equipment (hardware and software) making it suitable for existing practitioners. CARA uses AI algorithms to make standard retinal images sharper, clearer and easier to read. Effectively this means better early stage diagnosis of the various cardiovascular diseases mentioned above.

CARA is also a cost-effective tool for real-time screening of large volumes of patients. CARA has been cleared for commercialization by the following regulators: Health Canada, the FDA (USA), CE (Europe), COFEPRIS (Mexico) and Saudi FDA (Saudi Arabia). DIAGNOS already operates in 16 countries, 131 screening sites, and has 222,034 patients under their care.

DIAGNOS has developed AI to help better diagnose cardiovascular disease in the retina of the eye

Source: Diagnos Inc. website

CARA will now undergo clinical trials to test its effectiveness in detecting patients at risk of stroke

Riadh Kobbi, Vice President Data Science at DIAGNOS, states:

“CARA-ST will be able to predict the viability of developing a stroke condition based on the micro circulation analysis of the retina image of the patient. DIAGNOS has been developing this technology for the last four years and because of the conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to expedite the final testing and development of our new application…..This year our new stroke management application will be field tested in multiple countries.”

The global rollout of CARA commercialization continues

Announced in March 2021, Óptica Central (in collaboration with Aselcom, DIAGNOS’ distributor) has begun pilot testing screening of patients using DIAGNOS’s CARA Telemedicine technology. Óptica Central is the third largest optical retailer in Costa Rica. Óptica Central offers optics and optometry services. Their CEO, Jefrey Salas, stated:

“Óptica Central…..are pleased to start screening the population across our optical stores by providing DIAGNOS’ proven AI solution for early detection of eye illnesses, such as Diabetic Retinopathy, as well as preventing blindness caused by diabetes. There is no doubt that DIAGNOS’ experience in Costa Rica, and in other Latin American countries, has been at the forefront in proving its service with their remarkable technology.”

Announced in April, 2021, was the signing of an exclusive distribution agreement with Diagnos Europe GmbH, a new partner for DIAGNOS to tackle the strategically important DACH countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) in the European market and the surrounding countries Poland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein in order to prepare a successful market entry for the Company’s products and services in Central Europe, a crucial territory for DIAGNOS with a significant market potential in excess of more than 140 million people.

Announced on June 9, 2021, DIAGNOS has signed a multi-year agreement with IRIS The Visual Group Inc. (“IRIS”), creating a world leading platform launch for the deployment and enhancement of AI based tests, screening for vascular changes in the retina for optometry clinics. This very exciting news now means DIAGNOS’s CARA AI platform will be rolled out in a multi-step approach first to the 145 IRIS locations in Quebec, followed by the other store banners across New Look’s network of stores across Canada and Florida over the next year. (Note: The New Look Vision network totals 406 locations operating across North America). The deal has implications beyond diabetic retinopathy as it also includes the potential for additional AI exams that DIAGNOS is developing for hypertension, glaucoma and diabetic macular edema. DIAGNOS will also be receiving some funding from the INVEST-AI program to develop an application for diabetic macular edema using optical coherence tomography (OCT) images. In the news release DIAGNOS stated: “This milestone agreement with IRIS constitutes a major breakthrough for DIAGNOS’ path to continued global commercialization of its technology solutions.”

DIAGNOS’s revenues are forecast to grow rapidly, net profits forecast by 2023

Based on analyst’s forecasts, DIAGNOS is forecast to achieve C$1 million of revenues in 2022 rising to C$7 million by 2023. Due to a forecast strong net profit margin of ~32% in 2023, DIAGNOS is forecast to have a 2023 net profit of C$2.3 million, equating to a 2023 PE ratio of ~21.

DIAGNOS’s CARA AI driven tele-ophthalmology platform studies the retina to detect potential cardiovascular disease in the body

Source: Diagnos Inc. website

Closing remarks

For investors, there is a lot to like about DIAGNOS. A huge global need to better diagnose and screen for cardiovascular disease (especially stroke), ideally at an early stage to achieve positive outcomes. CARA is a cost-effective tool for real-time screening of large volumes of patients and has been cleared for commercialization in the USA, Europe, Canada and multiple other countries. The number of global distributors are growing and this typically leads to revenues and ultimately profits. In particular, the recent news with IRIS The Visual Group, has the potential for rapid North American commercialization.

DIAGNOS trades on a market cap of only C$40 million due to the early stage of commercialization, suitable for investors who are looking for a higher risk and potential high reward stock.

Located in the heart of the Newfoundland gold rush, TRU Precious Metals doubles its drilling program

Newfoundland in Canada is currently experiencing a gold rush, despite having mining operations since the 1770s. Newfoundland and Labrador ranked eighth globally in overall investment attraction in the most recent Fraser Institute Annual Survey of mining companies.

The Newfoundland excitement began in early 2020 when New Found Gold Corp. announced a discovery of 92.86 g/t gold over 19m (included 285.2 g/t Au over 6.0 meters). Anything over 5 g/t is considered high grade. Since then numerous junior miners have flocked to Newfoundland to stake their claim. One Company was early enough to claim a massive 23,000 hectares of land in the highly prospective Central Newfoundland Gold Belt, with one of their projects virtually next door to Marathon Gold Corp.’s Valentine Project (P&P reserves of 1.87 million oz Au & and M&I 3 million oz Au) and another one adjacent to New Found Gold’s Project.

The Company is TRU Precious Metals Corp. (TSXV: TRU | OTCQB: TRUIF) (“TRU”). TRU is a relatively new gold exploration company that has assembled a portfolio of 5 gold exploration properties (23,000 hectares) in the highly prospective Central Newfoundland Gold Belt. All projects are either 100% owned or with an option to purchase 100%. TRU’s flagship Golden Rose Project lies just near the Valentine Project which holds the largest undeveloped gold resource in Atlantic Canada.

TRU Precious Metals Corp.’s 5 well located Newfoundland projects shown in yellow

Source: Company presentation

TRU Precious Metals Corp.’s fully-funded summer (June-August) 2021 exploration program is now underway

Having successfully raised $3.5 million in May 2021, TRU has now begun a fully-funded exploration campaign across four of their Newfoundland projects – namely Golden Rose, Twilite Gold, Gander West, and Rolling Pond.

Perhaps Golden Rose holds the greatest promise due to its premier location between the successful Marathon Gold Corp.’s Valentine Gold Project and Matador Mining’s Cape Ray Gold Project. TRU will embark on a multi-phase exploration program throughout the remainder of 2021 to further delineate the known areas of gold mineralization and test new zones. Highlights of recently uncovered gold occurrences (by the previous owners) which have yet to be tested by TRU include Rose Gold, Jacob’s Pond and Jen’s Pond. At Rose Gold original grab samples assayed 18.8 g/t Au and 7.2 g/t Au and follow up prospecting in 2019 returned a 20.2 g/t Au sample. By sometime in Q3 2021, TRU plans to do a 5,000 metre diamond drill program at Golden Rose.

Announced on June 1, 2021, TRU has commenced a minimum Phase one 1,200-metre drill program at its 100% owned Twilite Gold Project. Interestingly just a week later the drill program was doubled to “up to approximately 2,500 meters“. It is a bit early yet to get excited, however, TRU Co-Founder, President, and CEO, Joel Freudman, sounds super excited about the companies chances, as you can view here in an exclusive interview with InvestorIntel titled “Joel Freudman on TRU Precious Metals and the ‘once-in-a-lifetime modern day gold rush’ in Newfoundland.” CEO Joel stated: “We are in a once-in-a-lifetime modern day gold rush…happening right now in Newfoundland Canada…..We are in it to win it.”

TRU state in the news release (regarding the upcoming drilling at the Twilite Gold Project):

“The drill target was previously identified by TRU during a detailed ground geophysical survey in November of 2020…..Twilite Gold is strategically located on the mapped extension of the Cape Ray-Valentine Lake Shear Zone. Numerous advanced-stage gold exploration projects are currently underway along this district-scale shear zone, including Marathon Gold’s multi-million-ounce deposit at Valentine Lake, and Matador Mining’s Cape Ray deposit.”

TRU Precious Metals Corp.’s Twilite Gold Project where up to 2,500 metres of drilling is commencing in June 2021

Source: Company presentation

Closing remarks

TRU Precious Metals Corp. trades on a market cap of C$19.7 million with the stock up 114% in the past year. With exploration moving into top gear now over the Canadian summer it looks to be a good time to consider a position in TRU Precious Metals Corp. A large gold find would get CEO Joel even more excited and potentially be a big positive for early stage investors. Fingers crossed and stay tuned for drill results in the coming months.

Rare earths and scandium drill results at Imperial’s Crater Lake continue to ‘exceed all expectations’

As electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers focus on achieving great energy efficiency and range lightweighting using a scandium-aluminum alloy continues to gain traction. By lowering a vehicle’s weight the range can either be improved or if kept the same the cost can be reduced by using fewer batteries.

Scandium oxide demand has potential to rise from 175 tpa to 5,000-10,000 tpa if lightweighting is adopted widely across the EV sector

Source: Imperial Mining company presentation

Scandium junior miner Imperial Mining Group Ltd. (TSXV: IPG | OTCQB: IMPNF) (“Imperial”) 100% owns the Crater Lake Scandium-REE Project in northeastern Quebec, Canada. The Project has a large 6km diameter complex host to high-grade scandium and some rare earths deposits. Drilling has defined a mineralized zone of over 600m in total strike length and from surface to a vertical depth of up to 200m. Scandium oxide drill result grades have ranged from 0.0235% to 0.056% (235-506 g/t) which makes the resource look potentially to be commercially viable, as viable scandium grades are typically >200-300 g/t. There is also a parallel niobium target showing grab assay results of between 0.20% and 1.42% Nb2O5 which sits 250m west of the scandium target.

Scandium is best known for increasing the strength and hardness of aluminum and is therefore used commercially for lightweighting in the automotive industry, space industry, for fuel cells and defense applications. Niobium is used mostly in the steel industry to significantly increase steel strength, resulting is less steel required and overall cost savings.

Announced on April 28, 2021, recent drill results at Crater Lake included results of 92.5 m @ 291g/t scandium oxide (Sc2O3). Elevated levels of total rare earth oxides plus yttrium of up to 0.42% were also found. Imperial stated in the release that “at a gold price of $1,750US/oz and a scandium oxide price of $1,250US/kg, the intersections represent a gold-equivalent value of 6.5 to 8.0 g/t Au”,  Imperial’s President and CEO Peter Cashin stated:

“The winter drilling results for the Crater Lake property continue to exceed all expectations….. mineralization has been traced by drilling over 600m in total strike length from surface to a vertical depth of up to 200m. Importantly, the zone appears to get wider and higher grade with depth.

Imperial Mining’s Crater Lake Scandium-REE Project in northeastern Quebec, Canada

Source: Imperial Mining corp. website

Further drill assay results announced on May 27, 2021, included an intercept of 111.9 m @ 298 g/t Sc2O3. Elevated levels of total rare earth oxides plus yttrium (TREO+Y) of up to 0.38% were also found across the scandium-bearing horizon. Given current high prices for the magnet rare earths such as neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, the rare earth oxides found should help boost the projects by-products and hence project economics. The current drilling program is now completed with a total of 14 drill holes having tested the TG Zone.

Next steps and business strategy

Imperial will now undertake a 43-101 preliminary Resource Estimate of the TG zone for delivery in June 2021. Imperial’s strategy is to become a producer of scandium and valuable rare earths using simple process recovery methods. Imperial would like to be a scandium disruptor and to capture market share. Over time the Company’s goal is to move downstream to deliver high-margin scandium-aluminum alloy products for the automotive, aerospace, defense and fuel cell sectors. The Project’s location in Canada’s aluminum capital of Quebec should also lead to further market opportunities.

One such opportunity has already emerged with Eck Industries (“Eck”) with a letter of intent (“LOI”) to develop scandium-modified aluminum alloys for transportation, defense and aerospace markets. The research work will be directed towards developing a novel scandium-enhanced version of the currently commercially available 535 Aluminum which Eck uses for a wide array of applications. The initial scope of work will include casting and testing of various compositions as well as characterization of the finished alloys.

Closing remarks

Imperial is still in the early stages of proving up a resource. But given scandium at economic grades is rare the Company is doing very well by finding good grade scandium and valuable rare earths. The Resource estimate is a significant near term catalyst, which would typically be followed by a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) or PFS.

All of this is ahead, so given the current market cap of just C$29 million, investors with a long-term time frame can have a chance at a potentially big reward if all goes well. The usual risks of junior miners also apply.

Share price rises 369% in the last year, ZEN Graphene announces a diesel fuel additive that improves the performance of diesel fuel

The wonder material graphene has a rapidly growing array of end uses ranging from strengthening composite materials to the graphene battery. It is even used in face masks and protective clothing with additives to help protect against COVID-19. But did you know that graphene can be used as a fuel additive to enhance the performance of diesel fuel.

ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSXV: ZEN) (“ZEN”) recently announced that “it has developed a stable diesel fuel additive which increased the performance of diesel fuel by up to 10% in initial testing.”

The implications for this are enormous. Diesel car sales in Europe last year made up 28% of new car sales. If ZEN’s graphene-based additive can improve fuel performance/economy then it means less diesel is used, which is better for reducing diesel emissions.

ZEN is still in the early stages with testing and additional research is currently underway with university partners. This means investors will need some patience on this opportunity. On the plus side the graphene-based additive can be easily added to diesel, biodiesel, and syndiesel. ZEN also sees significant potential opportunity in gasoline and aviation fuels. Now that would also be another huge potential market given there is around 1.42 billion cars on the planet, forecast to rise to 2 billion by 2035.

ZEN CEO, Greg Fenton, stated: 

“Energy and fuel are crucial to global economic prosperity, but also represent our biggest challenge from an environmental standpoint. With global market estimates for diesel fuel alone near $1 trillion, the size of the challenge to reduce emissions from this level of demand is massive, but so is the opportunity for novel solutions to help us be more efficient in our usage.”

More about ZEN Graphene Solutions (“ZEN”)

ZEN is currently focused on three primary areas of commercialization with a significant R&D pipeline and substantial upside potential:

  1. Health – ZENGuard and ZEN’s antimicrobial compound as a therapeutic and healthcare product.
  2. Advanced Materials
  3. Clean Technology

Graphene commercialization opportunities being pursued by ZEN Graphene Solutions

Source: ZEN company presentation

ZEN is commercializing their graphene technology in several ways including:

  • A graphene biocidal coating (‘ZENGuard’) used in face masks, surgical gloves, personal protective equipment (PPE), and air filtration systems. ZEN is already partnering with Trebor on a 100M mask agreement. ZEN has previously discussed plans to be producing their biocidal coating for 800 million masks a month by November 2021. This may be delayed due to Health Canada (HC) requiring further information into the safety of graphene. ZEN says it will “work collaboratively with HC to further reinforce and validate its safety profile. We expect the current review to be concluded in an expedited manner.” It should also be noted that the final results received from Nucro-Technics on skin irritation and sensitivity confirmed ZENGuard did not lead to any irritation or sensitivity.
  • A graphene compound used to fight against viruses (98% effective against COVID-19), bacteria, and fungal infections. Also used against antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.
  • ZEN’s graphene can reduce air conditioning energy requirement by 75% by removing moisture from the air, the air conditioning unit uses less energy and requires less maintenance.

Regarding the latest news on ZENGuard, ZEN CEO, Greg Fenton, stated:

“ZEN and Trebor have submitted the additional information requested by Health Canada and are fully committed to working diligently and collaboratively to ensure ZENGuard enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE) can make its way to those who need it most as quickly as possible.”

And regarding production of ZENGuard the Company stated: “ZEN remains committed to previously disclosed timeline and capacity estimates; Senior Chemical Engineer hired as Plant Manager overseeing capacity ramp-up and ongoing ZENGuard production.”

Closing remarks

ZEN has so many opportunities going for it that it can be hard to keep up. The recently completed non-brokered private placement means ZEN’s current liquidity is approximately C$5.3 million, which will be needed to ramp up production of graphene to meet just some of these exciting applications.

ZEN Graphene Solutions trades on a market cap of C$234 million and is having a banner year with the stock price up 369% over the past 12 months. Given this track record and the huge markets ZEN is targeting I would not bet against ZEN in 2021.

Disclosure: The author is long ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSXV: ZEN).