Electric vehicle battery material and testing firm Novonix has inked a new five-year deal with a battery material research group Dalhousie University.
Novonix, which has operations in Australia, US and Canada, and is listed on the ASX, has attracted recent attention regarding the growing demand for battery materials, having inked a deal with Tesla lead battery research Jeff Dahn who will become the company’s chief scientific advisor from July 2021.
The firm also recently announced it will receive a $US5.6 million ($A7.2 million) grant from the US department of energy for its work on synthetic graphite, which is aimed at providing a cost-effective alternative for the natural graphite materials commonly used in battery rechargeable anodes.
The new sponsorship deal with professor Mark Obrovac’s lab at the Canadian university – the same location of Tesla battery lead Jeff Dahn’s lab – builds on a former two-year agreement.
Under the deal, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada’s Alliance Grants Program contribute $CA2.2 million ($A2.23 million) towards the research lab, with Novonix contributing $CA1.1 million ($A1.12 million).
Novonix Chief Executive, Dr Chris Burns said in a statement that the proximity of the Dalhousie lab will allow the company to “quickly assess materials or processes on our battery cell pilot line and with Novonix BTS’s significant internal testing resources.”
The deal also states that the company will have first rights to any IP developed through the sponsorship.
The announcement of the new deal underlines patents already submitted by Novonix that have come out of research from Obrovac’s lab concerned with making synthetic dry particle graphite (DPMG), a process which Novonix says could dramatically reduce the cost of providing graphite to the battery industry.
The grant from the US department of energy, in particular, relates to the creation of a specialised furnace with which to make DPMG.
The company currently makes a product dubbed “PUREgraphite” at its Chattanooga, Tennessee operations using the DPMG method and has an initial deal to supply Samsung SDI, which makes lithium-ion EV batteries, with 453 tonnes.
There is no current known agreement between Novonix and Tesla, but it is thought that the recent extension of Dahn’s contract with Tesla indicates the electric vehicle maker still expects to garner further benefits from that relationship.
Obrovac welcomed the strengthened sponsorship and also reiterated that he welcomes Dahn to his new role as the chief scientific advisor for Novonix, which Dahn explained in a recent Youtube video is due to a change in his exclusive industrial partnership with Tesla.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.