ESG Investors look to Nano One as a connector in a sustainable future

If you follow Jack Lifton on InvestorIntel you’ll have a pretty good idea that the dream of replacing all the internal combustion engines on the road today with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is more of a fantasy than a reality based on today’s technology. The demand for raw materials, in particular lithium, just doesn’t add up. Jack does a great job of explaining the math in his Lithium by the numbers article from earlier this month with a follow up to hammer the point home in Lithium: The Haves and the Have Nots from last week. In summary, the first article suggests that even if lithium production doubles by 2025 (which producers say they can do), that will only get the world to roughly 10% of annual car production being BEVs. The latter article states “There is not even the remotest possibility that global lithium (measured as metal) production could grow to this week’s prediction, for example, by the child-like prognosticators at Deloitte, that in 2030 32% of all newly manufactured motor vehicles would be battery electric vehicles (BEVs).”

I think it’s safe to say that most reasonable people around the world agree that reducing emissions is a positive step for humanity. But how do we think as a global community that we can achieve these goals in light of some pretty serious shortfalls in the basic building blocks to making this happen? Obviously, technology has to be the answer. We have to be more efficient with the resources we’ve got if we want to have any chance at not only meeting the political goals of carbon reduction but also avoiding the often unwitnessed reality of destroying the earth by mining every possible resource required to achieve those goals.

The good news is that there is already a company out there working on technology to improve lithium-ion batteries. Nano One Materials Corp. (TSX: NANO) is a technology company with a patented and scalable industrial process for the production of low-cost, high-performance cathode powders used in lithium-ion batteries. These unique materials are being designed to add value to electric vehicles and grid storage batteries in the global push for a zero-emission future. Nano One’s patented manufacturing technology – the “One Pot Process” – streamlines the production process and thereby reduces cost while enabling higher performance cathode materials as compared to the standard manufacturing process. Last year the Company announced the development of a coated, single crystal cathode material for lithium-ion batteries that provides up to 4 times improvement in longevity. Granted this doesn’t necessarily reduce initial demand for lithium but it certainly helps to put less stress on the supply chain going forward.

With that said, last month Nano One announced three new patents issued and allowed in Canada, the US and China. Notably coverage for a novel method for phosphate stabilizing of lithium-ion battery cathodes. An important, low-cost durability improvement to lithium nickel manganese oxide (LNMO) cathode material which delivers energy and power on par with other high-performance cathodes and is more cost-effective because it is cobalt-free, low in nickel and does not require excess lithium. LNMO also has an operating voltage that is 25% higher than commercial high nickel cathodes, enabling fewer cells in applications such as power tools and electric vehicles while providing improved productivity, efficiency, thermal management and power. So no cobalt, less nickel and ultimately less lithium given you don’t need as many power cells.

And then there’s the other unintended consequence of moving towards a lower carbon future, the supply chain. Currently, the cathode supply chain is long and complex. Nano One technology enables cathode materials to be manufactured directly from nickel, manganese, and cobalt metal feedstocks in the form of metal powders, metal carbonates and other salts rather than metal sulfates. Metal powders are one-fifth of the weight of metal sulfates, avoiding the added costs, energy, and environmental impact of converting to sulfate and shipping and handling of waste. Nano One’s technology aligns it with the sustainability objectives of automotive companies, investment communities and governmental infrastructure initiatives. It also offers an opportunity for metals refiners to provide environmentally, and sustainably mined sources of nickel ore to integrate and manufacture cost-reduced value-added cathode powders for direct supply to battery manufacturers.

In summary, Nano One appears to have the right technology at the right time. On top of that, the Company does it all with a lower overall carbon footprint than many, if not all, of its peers. In my opinion, the latter concept still isn’t valued as high as it should be given as most ESG investors appear to be focused on top line carbon impact, and rightfully so given that policymakers haven’t really made it an issue yet. In the meantime, as Jack Lifton educates the world that BEVs in every driveway may be a fallacy in our lifetime utilizing current technology, here’s a company that could perhaps help make it more of a reality.




A cleaner greener world is what Nano One Materials is all about

The market sure liked the latest news that Nano One Materials Corp. (TSXV: NNO) received conditional approval to graduate to the Toronto Stock Exchange under a new trading symbol “NANO”  as the share price was up an impressive 13% yesterday. Perhaps this reflects market interest of the exciting potential of this interesting cleantech innovator.

For starters, Nano One is a technology company with a patented process for the low cost production of high performance cathode materials used in lithium ion batteries. You know, the batteries that are going to power virtually every battery electric vehicle and store the power from all the renewable energy sources coming online along with all your portable electronic devices. In other words, a pretty large addressable market. Nano One is in the process of showing the world that they have a better design for coating the cathode of a lithium ion battery.

All lithium ion batteries have cathode materials and it’s estimated that the cathode represents roughly 25% of the cost of the overall battery. This is where Nano One has focused on trying to reduce costs and improve efficiency. The Company’s silver bullet (that’s an expression, I don’t think there’s any silver involved) is the patented “One Pot Process” which streamlines the production process and thereby reduces cost while enabling higher performance cathode materials versus the standard manufacturing process.

Cost reduction comes from the process being able to go directly from metals (lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese) to cathode powder without having to convert it to sulphate or in lithium’s case, a hydroxide. This results in reduced costs for raw materials and energy input which in turn makes for a greener, lower carbon footprint overall. Cost savings can be several thousands of dollars per ton for cathode material.

The One Pot Process also helps on the performance side. As a battery charges and discharges, conventional polycrystalline cathode particles start to break apart from the stress of repeated charging. Over time this can fracture the protective coating and expose the inner part of the crystals to side reactions. This has the effect of reducing the range, life and charge of a battery. The Nano One process individually coats nanocrystals which form in one step and resist fracturing thus boosting durability and in turn full life cycle performance.

Source: Nano One Materials Corporate Presentation

The technology has been proven to work on several occasions including a joint development program focused on LNMO cathode materials (lithium nickel manganese oxide) that was successfully completed with validation by a multi-billion-dollar Asian cathode material producer and in collaboration with the University of Michigan on the development of innovative solid-state battery technology, to highlight the most recent updates. As well the Company is involved in strategic partnerships with Volkswagen, an undisclosed large US auto producer, Pulead Technology Industry (a highly respected Chinese cathode producer) and Saint Gobain (a 400-year-old materials company). In February Nano One announced its M2CAM (metal to cathode active material) initiative to engage in discussions with large integrated miners to reduce environmental footprints and maximize upstream value in the global battery supply chain.

As you can see, this company ticks all the boxes for a greener, cleaner world. And the best part is, they have more than enough cash to continue ongoing research and development, pilot plant expansion, business development and strategic initiatives having raised $29 million at the start of April to go along with the $30 million of working capital they finished Q1/21 with. Nano One appears to have the right solution at the right time and if the new green economy is serious about reducing its carbon footprint we all know who should be at the top of the list.

Follow Dean on Twitter: @iiDeanB1




It’s all in the name – Critical Elements Lithium

There has been a lot of talk about Lithium (Li) over the last several months. We are all familiar with Lithium-Ion batteries in our laptops, cell phones, tablets, power tools and of course electric cars. But have you ever wondered why that is or are you like me (until now) and just took it for granted. Turns out Lithium has the highest electric output per unit weight of any battery material which is why it is the standard material for lithium-ion (high energy-density rechargeable) batteries. It also happens to be the lightest of all metals making for a pretty good one-two punch to be used in battery technology. The point is, until there is a material technological breakthrough, Lithium will be leading the charge towards electrification of our society.

To that end, the demand side for Lithium looks to be skyrocketing over the next several years/decades. Here’s some great information on this courtesy of InvestorIntel’s own Jack Lifton in this article. As well there is a whole lot of supply chain questions that have been raised by both the pandemic and Chinese dominance of many of the critical battery materials leading to a noticeable shift towards “home grown” supply. Jack Lifton covers this issue in a video that’s also worth a view here, where he discusses how the policy of the US government is to prioritize the production of critical materials either in the United States or in friendly countries that are allied with the US. Additionally, at this year’s virtual PDAC Canada announced its own list of minerals (including Lithium) considered critical for the sustainable economic success of Canada and our allies. Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources is quoted as saying “Canada’s list signals to investors where Canada will focus and where Canada will lead. Critical minerals will get us to net-zero.”

Needless to say, there should be a bit of a premium to North American BEV (battery-powered electric vehicle) manufacturers to have a convenient and stable source of this important material. Perhaps even more importantly, critical minerals and their development has the support of the Federal government. Enter Critical Elements Lithium Corporation (TSXV: CRE | OTCQX: CRECF). A Quebec based junior mining company with its flagship Rose Lithium-Tantalum project located in James-Bay, Quebec. The company has one of the most advanced Lithium projects in Canada and one of the purest lithium deposits globally. The company recently announced an update to its draft environmental impact assessment report in which the Committee concludes that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. This moves the Rose project one step closer to obtaining the final authorization and keeping Critical Elements on pace to start mine construction in 2021 and see first production by late 2022/early 2023.

In 2017, Critical Elements completed a feasibility study on Rose Phase 1 for the production of high quality spodumene concentrate with an internal rate of return for the project estimated at 35% after tax, a net present value estimated at C$726 million (8% discount rate) and a three year payback. Those are some robust numbers but it’s going to be expensive to bring this project into production. The initial capital cost is estimated at C$341 million including all infrastructure with a 10% contingency. Correspondingly, in January 2021, the company announced it has engaged Cantor Fitzgerald Canada Corporation to pursue, engage and evaluate global strategic partners and investors to advance the Rose Project to production. Given the outlook for Lithium, it’s plausible to conceive that Critical Elements will be able to pick and choose the best deal for themselves to get the project financed (has anyone put a call into Elon Musk?).

In addition to the appeal of owning a company that could have a world class Lithium mine in full production by 2023 (and a meaningful rerating opportunity that goes with that), there is still some speculative upside from the companies 8 other projects. Even better, Critical Elements just announced an option agreement that gives Lomiko the right to acquire up to a 70% interest in the Bourier project. This agreement will allow the Bourier property to be explored in detail for battery minerals discoveries, such as Lithium, Nickel, Copper and Zinc while Critical Elements stays focused on goal #1 – the Rose Lithium-Tantalum project. However, with roughly $8 million dollars in cash, a financing decision has to be made to continue moving this exciting North American Lithium mine moving forward.




Positive market response for critical materials focused Avalon Advanced Materials’ Lind Partners funding deal

Blink and you will miss it. Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) has had that kind of a week, starting with the good news of securing a $3.0 million convertible security funding agreement with an entity managed by The Lind Partners, a New York based asset management firm. The market loved that, with the share price popping up. Some of that increased valuation has since come out of the share price, but it does not diminish the potential fortunes for the company and their multi-pronged resource strategy.

The convertible security has a two year term and will accrue a simple interest rate obligation of 10% per annum on the funded amount, which is prepaid and attributed to its face value upon issuance, resulting in a face value of $3.6 million. Lind will be entitled to convert the face value amount over a 24 month period, subject to certain limits, at a conversion price equal to 85% of the five day trailing volume weighted average price of Avalon’s common shares prior to the date of conversion. The convertible security matures 24 months after closing. Avalon has the right to repurchase the convertible security at any time, subject to the holder’s option to convert up to one third of the face value into Avalon common shares prior to this repurchase. Lind will also receive a closing fee of $90,000, and 9.8 million common share purchase warrants. Each warrant entitles the holder to purchase one common share of the Company at a price of $0.18 per common share until 48 months after closing.

That’s a lot of technical information, but it is important to appreciate that Avalon now has a funding partner and a built-in future financing over the next 4 years as well as a significant new shareholder.

Avalon has the best of both worlds, being a mineral development company focused on metals and minerals for use in clean energy and new technology. The company now has four advanced stage projects, providing investors with exposure to lithium, tin and indium, as well as rare earth elements, tantalum, cesium and zirconium.

The use of proceeds from the financing will be used to accelerate the planned work program for the company’s Separation Rapids lithium project near Kenora, Ontario and cover near term working capital requirements. Next steps at Separation Rapids involve extraction of the 5,000 tonne bulk sample of the petalite mineralization for pilot plant processing to recover product samples for customer evaluation and finalization of the lithium hydroxide battery materials process flowsheet. The company is presently looking at two alternatives for pilot plant processing of the bulk sample. In parallel, the company will begin working on the feasibility study for its planned lithium battery materials refinery in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The company announced an agreement in late 2020 to collaborate on the development of this refinery with an industry partner, Rock Tech Lithium Inc. to produce lithium sulphate, a precursor chemical for lithium-ion batteries.

The Separation Rapids lithium project is 100% owned by Avalon, is located close to transportation (road access) and power infrastructure, including clean hydropower. According to the company, there are no undesirable environmental impacts and it has strong local community support. This is a very significant deposit as petalite is the predominant ore mineral – it can be used to both make high strength glass (smashed a cellphone screen lately….?) as well as being a high purity feed to make battery grade lithium hydroxide or carbonate.

The second business of the company is in the rare earths. Avalon has a 3% Net Smelter Royalty on the shallow zone of the Nechalacho Property and a 100% interest in the deep zone at the Thor Lake deposit in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The project is on-track to produce rare earths in 2021. Shallow zone project development could lead to economies of scale to allow for future development of Avalon’s deep rare earths deposit as well, the company has positioned itself well in the cleantech and rare earths space.




Nano One looks to be moving in the same direction as EV leader Tesla

At Tesla Battery Day in September 2020 Tesla discussed how they plan to have a three prong approach to batteries – Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP), Nickel Manganese (NM or LMN), and high nickel (NCA or NMC). Today I look at the nickel manganese battery and a company that is moving in the same direction as Tesla. That company is Nano One Materials Corp. (TSXV: NNO) (“Nano One”).

Tesla’s planned mix of battery cathode types – Li Iron Phosphate (LFP), Nickel-Manganese (NM), high nickel (NCA) (NMC)

Source

Nano One specializes in improving battery cathodes. In particular the Company’s focus is to make low cost, high performance, cathode powders used in lithium ion batteries.

In October 2020, Nano One announced that they have developed a breakthrough in longevity for a cobalt free high voltage battery that has been successfully demonstrated at automotive rates of charge and discharge for over 900 cycles. The battery uses a low cost, cobalt-free Lithium Nickel Manganese (LNM) cathode active material made with Nano One’s proprietary One-Pot process.

The problem with removing the cobalt can be that the battery becomes less stable or has a lower lifespan (less cycles). However in this case Nano One has managed to achieve 900 cycles, which is heading towards the 1,500 cycles that a Tesla Model 3 achieves using a more expensive nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) battery. The other reason for removing cobalt is that the world supply of cobalt is limited and mostly comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo – A country rampant with issues such as corruption, child labor and exploitation. Many analysts are forecasting severe cobalt supply shortages after 2023 just as the EV boom takes off. This explains why Tesla and Nano One are working towards a nickel-manganese battery with no cobalt.

Nano One’s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Stephen Campbell explains:

“We are able to avoid rapid capacity fade and premature failure and have successfully demonstrated a high voltage lithium ion battery cell with significant cycle life – this is an exceptional outcome. The enabling technology is Nano One’s patented LNM cathode material operating up to 4.7 volts and made using our patented One Pot process. The LNM voltage is 25% higher than commercial lithium ion batteries, improving efficiency, thermal management and power.

Nano One’s Coated Single Nanocrystal Cathode gives a performance advantage

Source

In June 2020, Nano One announced the development of a coated, single crystal cathode material for lithium ion batteries that is providing up to 4 times improvement in longevity. The technology is applicable to all of Nano One’s cathode materials.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Nano One was able to raise an oversubscribed equity raising of approximately $14.37M at an offering price of $2.72 per Unit (one share and half a warrant). The Company intends to use the net proceeds for research and development, capital equipment purchases and facility expansion, intellectual property acquisition, business development, working capital and general corporate purposes.

Nano One continues to have successful breakthroughs in improving lithium-ion battery cathodes, most importantly in all types of cathodes (iron based, nickel-manganese, and high nickel-cobalt). Combine this with their excellent established development partners Pulead (the global leader in LFP cathodes), Volkswagen (a leading OEM), and Saint-Gobain then it should not be surprising to see Nano One start to commercialize their patented technology in the near future.

The global cathode market is forecast to be a US$23 billion market by 2025 and includes a US$1 billion potential licensing opportunity which Nano One is targeting. Nano One’s goal is to achieve ~$70M pa in revenues by 2025 at high profit margins.

Nano One’s stock is up 118% over the past year so early investors are certainly being rewarded. With the EV boom set to accelerate due to Tesla’s planned US$25,000 car by 2023, it should leave plenty of opportunity for Nano One to make their mark.




Well partnered (and well-funded) with key battery suppliers, Nano One charges forward on ‘Mission Possible’…

Nano One secures an additional $11 million in cash to provide a multi-year funding runway for their work on lithium-ion battery cathodes

For companies that are not yet producing revenues, the threat of running out of funding is a significant business risk. As the COVID-19 disruption deepens and some companies run low on cash, Nano One Materials has secured an additional $11 million in funding which will provide them with “a multi-year runway extending over three years.” This essentially removes the short-term funding risk making the stock a safer buy for investors.

Nano One Materials Corp. (TSXV: NNO) is working on making lithium-ion batteries better. Nano One has developed patented and scaleable industrial processes for producing low cost, high performance, battery materials typically used in the battery cathode. The processing technology enables lower-cost feedstocks, simplifies production, and advances performance for a wide range of cathode materials.

Nano One is working to make lithium-ion battery cathodes cheaper and better

Source

Nano One’s recent funding success

  • $11m raised from private and institutional groups
  • $5.25m grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC)

In connection with the closing of the $11m financing, Nano One issued 9,565,000 units at a price of $1.15 per unit with each unit comprising of one common share in the capital of the Company (the “Shares”) and one-half of one common share purchase warrant (the “Warrants”). Each whole Warrant is exercisable into one share at an exercise price of $1.60 per until February 21, 2023.

The proceeds from the financing will be used for corporate development, facilities expansion, technology advancement and general working capital.

Nano One CEO Mr. Dan Blondal stated:

“We are thrilled with the capital market response to this latest placement. The proceeds from this financing will also be leveraged by an additional five million dollars in non-dilutive and non-repayable contributions, that was awarded to Nano One by Sustainable Development Technology Canada in May of 2019. The sum of sixteen million dollars enables us to accelerate business plans and co-development activities including those already underway with Volkswagen, Pulead, Saint-Gobain and other undisclosed global automotive interests.”

Note: Nano One also receives financial support from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).

Nano One – Why invest?

Nano One’s development partners

Nano One is very well partnered into key battery suppliers and some car manufacturers, including several big names – Pulead, Saint-Gobain and Volkswagen. Nano One is working with Pulead to develop better LFP batteries, with Saint-Gobain to improve thermal processing and to develop enhanced high temprature cathode processing, and with Volkswagen to develop advanced materials for next generation batteries.

Apart from the partnerships discussed above and other undisclosed opportunities, Nano One has 16 patents with 30+ patents pending.

Nano One’s business model

Nano One’s goal is to achieve up to $1 billion in licensing fees revenue for their patented cathode technologies, by tapping into the rapidly growing cathode market that is forecast to be worth $23 billion by 2025.

Nano One is tapping into the battery cathode market which is forecast to be worth $23 billion in revenues by 2025

Source

Closing remarks

Nano One is ticking all the right boxes.

  • Great patented technology – Check.
  • Industry leading partners (Pulead, Saint-Gobain and Volkswagen) – Check
  • Funding secured ($16 million in total) – Check
  • Government backing – Check

With a potential up to $1 billion licensing fees opportunity and a market cap of just C$80 million, it is not too late for investors to get on board. If Nano One succeeds it will have been a great time for investors to have bought in now after the recent dip. Execution risk remains, but the rewards look large if Nano One can pull it off.




Standard Lithium positioned ‘as the largest lithium brine resource in the US’

It’s very easy to see why lithium is getting so much attention from investors – the new revolution with electric vehicles (EVs) and so many things running on lithium ion batteries is nearly upon us.

Standard Lithium Ltd. (TSXV: SLL | OTCQX: STLHF) is a specialty chemical company delivering an innovative approach to unlocking the world’s next most important energy resource – lithium – by developing technology to extract lithium from brine faster than conventional methods. The Company is focused on unlocking the value of existing large scale US based brine resources that have the potential to be brought into production for battery quality lithium materials. The Company believes new lithium production can be brought on stream rapidly by minimizing project risks at selection stage and by leveraging advances in lithium extraction technologies and processes.

Where possible the company is partnering with active, US-based permitted brine (often bromine) producers and is utilizing a mix of conventional and new lithium extraction technologies based upon project requirements.

Standard Lithium has two key lithium projects:

  1. Arkansas Smackover – Southern Arkansas (Lanxess Project, and TETRA Technologies).
  2. The Bristol and Cadiz Dry Lake Lithium Brine Project – Mojave Dessert California (more details here)

The Lanxess Project in Arkansas USA

The Company’s current focus is the immediate development of its flagship Lanxess Project located in southern Arkansas. This region is home to North America’s largest brine production, with a location that has existing significant infrastructure in-place, and is already permitted for extensive brine extraction and processing activities.

In May 2018, the Company signed up with the global specialty chemicals company LANXESS Corporation (LANXESS) and its US affiliate Great Lakes Chemical Corporation (GLCC), with the purpose of testing and proving the commercial viability of extraction of lithium from brine (tail brine) that is produced as part of Lanxess bromine extraction business at its three Southern Arkansas facilities. Standard Lithium has developed a proprietary process that uses a solid ceramic adsorbent material with a crystal lattice that is capable of selectively pulling Lithium+ ions from the “tail brine” or waste brine after it has gone through the bromine-extraction step. Standard Lithium plans to build a selective lithium extraction demonstration pilot plant on one of LANXESS’s three production facilities.

Standard Lithium’s planned pilot plant on one of LANXESS’s three production facilities

Standard Lithium’s planned pilot plant on one of LANXESS’s three production facilities

TETRA Technologies project – Southern Arkansas

In January 2018, Standard Lithium entered an Option Agreement with NYSE-listed TETRA Technologies, to acquire the rights to conduct exploration, production and lithium extraction on 30,000 acres of brine leases located in an area of the Smackover Formation in southern Arkansas, known to be highly productive. Standard Lithium also announced in January 2019 that Standard Lithium has a maiden Inferred Resource of 802,000 tonnes LCE  (lithium carbonate equivalent) at their South-Western Arkansas Tetra Project. Combined with Standard Lithium’s flagship project the Lanxess Property, this results in a total combined Arkansas lithium brine resource of 3,888,000 tonnes.

Robert Mintak, CEO said: “This combined project in Southern Arkansas positions us as the largest lithium brine resource in the US, a significantly expanding market that currently relies on imports of foreign lithium.”

Prototype Lithium Carbonate Crystallization Pilot Plant produces 99.56% lithium carbonate

Standard Lithium started 2019 strongly announcing on January 9 that the Company has produced its first battery quality (>99.56% purity) lithium carbonate. The battery quality lithium carbonate was produced at the Company’s prototype Lithium Carbonate Crystallization Pilot Plant operated by Saltworks Technologies Inc., at their facility in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

Dr. Andy Robinson, President and COO of Standard Lithium, commented: “We continue to be very pleased with the performance of our prototype pilot. Whilst we had previously made ‘battery quality’ carbonate at bench scale using our proprietary technology, we consider it an important milestone that we can achieve the same very high levels of purity at the larger scale of our prototype pilot.”

With a combined lithium brine resource of 3.888 million tonnes contained LCE, Standard Lithium is proving they are more than just standard. With a huge lithium demand wave just around the corner Standard Lithium is working hard with their projects to become a new US based lithium producer. Their model of working with existing companies in the brine extraction sector makes Standard Lithium somewhat unique.