Sri Lankan Graphite for Rechargeable Batteries

With the advancement of R&D in the recent past, graphite has gained a new level of usage in the energy sector adding value to raw graphite and has become a vital material in Lithium-ion battery technology. Of the various types of graphite, vein graphite is the rarest and most valuable form due to its high level of purity and stability. Sri Lanka is the only country in the world that produces and exports commercially viable vein graphite that accounts for less than 1% of the world’s output.

The National Center for Advanced Battery Research (NCABR) attached to the Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Project (NAM) of NIFS has been successful in developing novel technologies together with three Sri Lankan patents and another patent application (under pending approval) based on high value addition to Sri Lankan vein graphite,

             1. Ultra-pure graphite through a novel low-cost and efficient method for ’’purification of Sri Lankan vein graphite by acid leaching to ultra-high purity’’. (Sri Lankan Patent:18729).

             2. Battery grade graphite for Li-ion rechargeable batteries through novel low-cost and efficient methodss of ‘’Lithium carbonate coated Sri Lankan vein graphite for rechargeable Lithium-ion battery anode’’. (Sri Lankan Patent: 18730) and ‘’Chemical oxidation of purified Sri Lankan vein graphite for anode of rechargeable Lithium-ion battery’’. (Sri Lankan Patent: 18728).

            3. Battery grade graphite for Na-ion rechargeable batteries through a novel low-cost and efficient method of ‘’Structural modification of vein graphite through varying interlayer spacing by thermal annealing for the anode electrode of the sodium ion rechargeable battery. Joint application with NRC, Sri Lanka, (Sri Lankan Patent Application: 22136).

            4. Technology know-how developed on Li-ion coin cell batteries fabricating with our patented battery grade graphite and nano-materials developed at NIFS. The laboratory-scale model of rechargeable Li-ion coin cells already tested for its higher capacity and durability together with low-cost

The NCABR is presently expanding its R&D work through scaling up of those patented processes leading for their ultimate commercialization. In addition, further expanding of our technology know-how to other types/sizes and verities of batteries such as rechargeable lithium-ion pouch cells (the building block of bigger batteries for portable electronics, Electric Vehicle, Solar power storage …) are currently underway. It is performed with the expectation of transferring our gained know-how to produce developed batteries locally.

These technological advancements are expected to open new avenues to Sri Lanka with great future potential. Our primary objective is the utilization of these developed and patented processes to produce ‘’ultra-pure vein graphite’’ and ‘’battery grade graphite’’ locally for the export market with the ultimate aim of Increasing the income from Sri Lankan graphite by exporting value added materials.

The secondary objective is the utilization of our gained knowledge and developed technological know-how on battery fabrication using locally developed materials to start up battery manufacturing locally. The low-cost, longer duration and higher capacity added by using this developed battery grade vein graphite will make the batteries highly competitive in the global market.