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NEO Battery Materials fast tracks their silicon anode EV battery material plant in Korea

NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM | OTCQB: NBMFF) (“NEO”) is advancing at full speed with their recent announcement that they have “completed a contract for the Commercial Plant’s construction, design, and permits with an architectural firm”. The plant will be located in Gyeonggi Province’s Oseong International Investment Zone in South Korea, near major battery manufacturers LG Energy Solution and Samsung SDI.

As a brief reminder for new investors, NEO has developed high-performance silicon anode materials to replace parts of the graphite used by anode and battery manufacturers in their battery anodes. Their leading product is NBMSiDE™, a silicon anode material for EV lithium-ion batteries. NBMSiDE™ is manufactured through the Company’s proprietary nanocoating technology, achieving a high specific capacity of >2,500 mAh/g. This essentially means the NEO silicon anode material helps improve the all-important battery energy holding capacity and ultimately the charging speed of the EV.

As NEO states: “Through a mix of treatments and nanocoating materials, NEO utilizes pure metallurgical-grade silicon particles, which provide a 40-70% higher initial specific energy or capacity compared to current competitors that employ SiOx, SiC, or other composite silicon materials.”

South Korea anode plant design progressing with an increased production target

Regarding the new anode materials plant, the final site approval has now been granted. Due to the land site being in a Foreign Investment Zone, NEO will receive a range of benefits including a 99% reduced lease rate and tax incentives. NEO may also access Provincial financial support for equipment purchases, employment subsidies, and education/training subsidies.

Additionally, NEO recently stated that the “Company will now advance to the detailed process design for the production lines and will proceed with early orders of components that have long lead times for the commercial plant. Through a structured execution plan of performing procurement and construction processes one after another, NEO expects to achieve the initial commission of the Commercial Plant by the first half of next year… We are currently working on pursuing strategic investments and communicating with the respective companies and investors to finance the construction of the commercial plant.”

In another very interesting development from NEO, the Company has increased their anode material production targets again. The original pilot plant capacity was 10 tons, which last year was increased 12 fold to a commercial scale of 120 tons pa. This was recently increased to 240 tons pa. Even more impressive is the longer term target of the full facility capacity after installing the maximum number of mass-production lines through expansion, of 2,000 tons of NBMSiDE™ anode material pa.

NEO Battery Materials is fast tracking towards commercialization of their silicon anode material (‘NBMSiDE™’) for the EV industry

Source: NEO Battery Materials company presentation

NEO has also been busy sending NBMSiDE™ product samples to several potential off-take companies for testing. If this stage goes well then usually off-take agreements follow, which then typically helps the project financing process.

“The first refined sample of NBMSiDE™ has been provided to a Europe-based battery materials company,” NEO recently stated,  “and a second delivery is planned in April. NEO is additionally conducting sample tests with several Asia-based and European battery manufacturers.”

NEO has also recently internally developed NBMSiDE™ pouch-type full cells which have been manufactured to evaluate product performance, viability, and durability in genuine battery charging conditions.

In an April 5, 2022 news release NEO stated that: “NEO Battery Materials will commence construction in June 2022 and will follow stringent timelines and protocols to aim completion in June 2023.” I would assume this is subject to project financing.

Summary of NEO’s plans and targets for their new silicon anode materials plant

Source: NEO Battery Materials company presentation

Closing remarks

NEO is making great progress with their silicon-anode material commercialization plans, with the excellent advantage of locating their manufacturing facility in the Oseong International Investment Zone in South Korea.

Investors should understand that the next stages of product evaluation and testing, off-take deals, financing, and project construction all carry risks and the possibility of delay. Nonetheless, NEO is certainly making all the right moves and looks to be very well connected to the major Korean battery manufacturers.

NEO Battery Materials trades on a market cap of C$52 million.




Targeting next generation silicon anode materials NEO Battery Materials up 387.5% in 2021

2021 will be remembered as the year that the western world woke up to the electric vehicle (EV) boom, especially boosted by the fact that global electric car sales look set to finish up about 100% YoY. So what will 2022 bring? I previously wrote here my top 3 stock picks for 2022 and here are my top 5 graphite miners to watch in 2022; but today’s company looks set to benefit from a little-known trend in the EV world.

That trend is the increasing use of silicon in battery anodes to boost battery performance, especially charging speed and energy density (range). This is because when a battery charges the rate of charge depends on how quickly the ‘anode’ can absorb or fill up with electrons. By adding silicon into the graphite anode it is better able to absorb more electrons and therefore the battery has better capacity. Companies continue to work on some of the challenges of silicon in anodes which include swelling, cracking and lower cycle life.

NEO Battery Materials is making progress in developing better silicon anode materials

Source

Today we look at NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM | OTCQB: NBMFF) (“NEO”) whose stock price rose 387.5% on the TSXV in 2021. NEO is a Canadian battery materials company with a current focus on developing silicon anode materials through an ion-and electron-conductive polymer nanocoating technology.

Looking back on 2021, NEO had a strong year (company highlights here) especially in building up both their technology and their team. You can read some more on that in my last article: Making lithium-ion battery components more durable and efficient to improve battery capacity. In that article, I discussed how NEO’s ‘pure’ silicon anode materials were already achieving much higher cycle-life than competitors (NEO is achieving 1,000 cycles) with the main benefit of silicon material in anodes being greater energy density and charging speeds. Conventional lithium-ion batteries with graphite anodes have a cycle life of between 2,000 and 5,000+ cycles.

It should be noted that there is today a growing market for silicon anode materials to be used as an additional material combined with a conventional graphite anode to boost performance. Tesla is one of many that use silicon-graphite anodes.

In recent months NEO has made further progress as shown by three recent significant announcements:

Within the three announcements above the key progress for NEO is the launch of 3 types of silicon (“Si”) anode active materials (NBMSiDE-P100, NBMSiDE-P200, and NBMSiDE-C100), and the fact that NEO is on schedule for semi-commercial scale production of these materials by the end of 2022. Regarding the 3 silicon anode materials NEO stated:

“The three types of products are manufactured through NEO’s proprietary nanocoating technology and are based on metallurgical-grade silicon with purities of at least 99.95%…..NEO’s technology significantly improves the life span and cycling stability compared to conventional metallurgical silicon-based particles.”

NEO President and CEO, Spencer Huh, stated: “We are very glad to bring the 3 types of silicon anode active prototypes to the market as a result of valuable research and development for the past 7 years. All our business developments are aligned with our plans and strategy, and we have complete confidence in pushing towards the semi-commercial plant facility in South Korea. NEO is positioning itself as a low-cost, robust Si anode materials supplier for electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries, and we are set to provide long-term value for all stakeholders.

Note: Bold emphasis by the author.

The Company also stated: “NEO is expediting the process of developing its 100% pure silicon anode based on CNT (carbon nanotube) conductive additives and new robust binder technologies, and is currently conducting research and progressing commercialization projects regarding the graphite/silicon composite anode through active collaboration with companies that have signed NDAs……..Our process that effectively reduces the cost of Si anode production will act as a stark point of differentiation compared to existing and potential competitors.”

NEO recently launched 3 types of silicon anode active materials (NBMSiDE-P100, NBMSiDE-P200, NBMSiDE-C100) 

Source: NEO Battery Materials announcement on December 6, 2021

Also of significance is that NEO has established and built its R&D Scale-Up Centre at the Yonsei University of South Korea through NEO Battery Materials Korea Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. NEO believes that this R&D center “could speed up further development of additional NBMSiDE pipelines of silicon anode active materials.”

Closing remarks

NEO is at the leading edge in developing lower cost silicon anode active materials and recently launched 3 new silicon anode materials products with another 2 to follow soon. Usually, once product samples are released it often leads to off-take agreements. Planned semi-commercial scale production of these materials by the end of 2022 offers a strong potential catalyst for investors.

NEO Battery Materials trades on market cap of C$34 million and is definitely a stock to watch closely in 2022.




Making lithium ion battery components more durable and efficient to improve battery capacity

NEO Battery Materials’ Progressing on the Development and Commercialization of Longer Lasting Higher Energy Density Lithium Ion Battery Components

Investors looking for a cutting edge technology company in the electric vehicle (EV) battery components sector need look no further than NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM | OTCQB: NBMFF). NEO is a North American battery materials company with a current focus on developing silicon anode (the negative electrode in a battery) materials through its “ion-and electronic-conductive polymer nanocoating technology.” Or, in simpler language, a ‘silicon material’ for batteries, used to make the anode last longer in service (make it capable of being charged and recharged more times without losing integrity or efficiency)  and be capable of holding more energy, thus making the battery more durable and efficient

NEO states: “NEO has a focus on producing silicon anode materials through its proprietary single-step nanocoating process, which provides improvements in capacity and efficiency over that of lithium-ion batteries using graphite in their anode materials.”

NEO’s stock price has been on a tear in 2021; however, the recent pullback potentially gives a better entry point for investors.

NEO Battery Materials (TSXV: NBM) 1 year stock price chart

Source: Yahoo Finance

Another thing that investors love is active management that can rapidly progress a company and produce lots of good news. We’ll take a look at the news flow summary below, just for November 2021.

  • Nov. 23, 2021 – NEO Battery Materials appoints lithium-ion battery electrode binder and polymer technology expert, Dr. Byeong-Su Kim, to Scientific Advisory Board. The news states: “Utilizing robust binder technologies with characteristics such as a high elastic modulus can help contain and control the volume expansion of silicon, resulting in lower probabilities of particle pulverization and a cracking anode.”
  • Nov. 18, 2021 – NEO Battery Materials receives approval for a core patent from the Korean Intellectual Property Office.
  • Nov. 16, 2021 – NEO Battery Materials announces research consortium LOI with both the University of Toronto and with an undisclosed global OEM for R&D and scale-up of EV Battery Materials. The preliminary project will involve the full electrode fabrication of silicon-carbon composite anodes through NEO’s silicon particle nanocoating process…..With the active material (silicon and/or graphite), binders and conductive additives as core components….
  • Nov. 10, 2021 – NEO Battery Materials appoints Dr. Dongmok Whang, expert in low-dimensional nanomaterials and graphene, to Scientific Advisory Board. His research expertise lies in the field of fabrication and manufacturing of low-dimensional nanomaterials, especially graphene, semiconductor nanowires, and porous nanostructures for applications in electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells, and various energy storage solutions.
  • Nov. 4, 2021 – NEO Battery Materials accomplishes anode production capacity upscaling Project over the past three months. The news states: “From the initial production rate of several grams per hour for manufacturing silicon anode materials at the lab-scale, NEO’s engineering team has accomplished to expand the rate to a level of several kilograms per hour. This is a result of improving productivity by more than 1,000-fold, and the success of the Project at this level has given stronger validation for the 120-ton semi-commercial plant that is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of next year.” President & CEO Spencer Huh, added: “As NEO understands the need to fast-track into mass production, we are pleased to announce the accomplishment of the Upscaling Project. The Company is at the forefront of developing unique Si anode lines through the low-cost manufacturing process, and we are customizing solutions for various downstream users to optimize the products for high-power electric vehicle lithium-ion battery applications.”

The above 5 news items, when added together’ show the rapid pace and progress NEO is achieving. Looking back on the previous two months there were even more great achievements by NEO. The standout news came on October 26 when NEO announced: “Completion of semi-commercial plant conceptual design and initiates engineering EPC stage for construction.” The facility will be in South Korea. President & CEO, Spencer Huh, stated: “NEO is now another step towards commercializing our silicon anode materials for EV lithium-ion batteries and is actively expediting our timelines and milestones.”

As shown below the problem with silicon in anodes can be that as the silicon absorbs the electrons it expands then cracks the anode, leading to a low cycle life (low longevity). NEO has managed to improve this by using its cost-effective and efficient one-pot, single-step, nanocoating process.

NEO Battery Materials state that their silicon anode materials are already achieving much higher cycles than competitors

Source: NEO Battery Materials company website

Closing remarks

A lot of the details surrounding NEO Battery Materials’ achievements are not very well understood by investors. This is only natural as most investors are not battery material scientists.

The key to understanding NEO’s work is that its silicon anodes or composite silicon graphite anodes can significantly improve battery capacity, which relates to greater energy density, and hence longer range for the same size battery. What EV manufacturers and customers all want is better performing batteries that result in longer driving range for a given size battery. Silicon anodes today present many challenges, especially cracking leading to poor cycle life. NEO is making great strides in solving this problem by producing silicon anode materials with a much longer cycle life.

If NEO can succeed in meeting commercial standards it will have Tesla and other EV and battery/anode OEMs knocking on its door. For now it appears there is plenty of promise, especially given the longer cycling results (1,000 cycles) and recent production scaling progress, as well as the interest from an OEM in joining NEO’s research consortium.

NEO Battery Materials trades on a market cap of C$39 million. It’s one to watch.




Recharging a battery in 5 minutes is the starting block for NEO Battery Materials interest

It seems like it was only last week that I was writing about nanomaterials and how they were going to save the world by making everything better. Oh wait, it was just last week. I guess the difference here is that this company has an actual resource (targeting silica in quartzites) that would supply their proprietary nanocoating technology. Nope, that’s almost the same as well. So to quote baseball’s philosopher, Yogi Berra, it’s déjà vu all over again. Today is another story about nanomaterials that look like they have the potential to improve the technology required to lower our carbon footprint and make the air we breathe a little cleaner.

The company being discussed this time around is NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM | OTC: NBMFF). A six-month chart of this stock will tell you that there is plenty of buzz around what is happening, given it has traded in a range of $0.14/share to as high as $1.31, closing yesterday at $0.89. Most of this activity is being driven by the steady stream of exciting news that comes out on an almost weekly basis. Two of the biggest surges in the stock price came first in early June when the Company made the remarkable announcement that its nanocoated silicon anode allows for a safe full charge on small battery cells within 5 minutes leading to a two-day rally of 62%. Then this past Friday NEO reported the first prototype of silicon anode active materials has been successfully produced, and samples have been sent to partners for full cell evaluation and electrochemical characterization. The latest news causing the stock to surge 30% on the day with further follow through on Monday adding another 14% to the share price.

These are some pretty stunning moves so let’s look a little closer at what this all means in the grand scheme of things and why the stock may be responding like it is to this news. The first news seems pretty obvious to me, recharging a battery in 5 minutes is impressive no matter how you look at it. If we could all recharge our smartphone, wearable device, tablet, laptop, cordless yard equipment, etc. in 5 minutes, life would be a whole lot more convenient. But convenience isn’t going to save the earth. Where this becomes a game changer is if they can evolve this technology for use in the Li-Ion batteries used in EVs. Imagine the change in adoption of EVs over internal combustion engines if you can recharge your battery in almost the same amount of time it takes to fill a vehicle with gas. It almost wouldn’t matter what the range of the battery is as long as there was adequate charging capability. Going to Starbucks for a coffee? Plugged in the car before I went in and it was charged when I came out. Stopping by the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up something for dinner? No problem, also charged the car while I was in the store.

Perhaps I’m getting a little bit utopian but it’s hard to argue that an EV that could charge in 5 minutes wouldn’t be revolutionary. This leads us to the latest news from the Company, the first working set of NEO’s proprietary silicon anode materials has been manufactured through their unique process. This prototype will be utilized by NEO’s third-party partners for evaluating the performance and efficacy of NEO’s silicon anodes in each respective party’s cell system and environment. The Company expects this development to act as a catalyst to accelerate the commercialization of its silicon anode active materials. Another critical piece of information in the latest press release was the signing of two new Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with global top-tier battery material producers in China and South Korea for NEO’s innovations with silicon. They are getting the word out and in front of the right people to make something happen.

The Company raised $2 million in early May and had a cash balance of $872,171 as of their May 31st financials. NEO has likely raised another $1.4 million from the exercise of in-the-money ($0.30 strike) warrants that were set to expire on August 21st. There are still 17 million warrants outstanding but with an expiry date of May 2024, who knows if/when those might get exercised. In the meantime, there should be enough cash to continue operations for a couple of more months at which point in time we will see what’s next for NEO Battery Materials. They may have to go back to the market to raise some capital, or perhaps a JV with one of their NDA partners will provide some financial support. Regardless, there are some exciting things happening that will keep investors on the edge of their seats for the foreseeable future.