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Li-Metal to test lithium alloy in Lyten's next-gen batteries

Ingots made in Toronto bound for California-based lithium-sulphur battery innovator

A lithium ingot from Li-Metal. (Courtesy Li-Metal Corp.)

Li-Metal Corp. (LIM-CN) has announced a partnership with San Jose, Calif.-based lithium-sulphur battery startup Lyten to test its lithium alloy for potential use in Lyten’s next-generation battery technology.

Lyten will be receiving Li-Metal’s lithium alloy ingots to verify the quality of the metal and its performance in the batteries, Li-Metal CEO Srini Godavarthy said in an interview with Sustainable Biz Canada.

“They (Lyten) really need lithium metal. We were the natural source for them because they didn’t want to go get the metal from a Chinese source . . . It was literally a match made in heaven,” he said.

The $2.8-million project between the Toronto-based battery technology company and Lyten is supported by $930,826 in funding from the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network.

Li-Metal and Lyten contributed $1.9 million to the venture, with Li-Metal contributing the bulk of the funds and Lyten offering its know-how and people, he explained.

Lithium-sulphur batteries have the potential to deliver significantly more power than traditional lithium cells. They also weigh less, which would reduce vehicle weights and thus, the energy required to move them.

The ingots will be tested by Lyten, an up-and-coming battery technology firm that raised US$200 million in September 2023 to commercialize its lithium-sulphur batteries which are aimed at helping to decarbonizing industries such as automotive and aerospace.

The lithium-sulphur batteries require lithium alloy foil, which is created by flattening the ingots.

Li-Metal a 'natural source' for lithium

At its Markham facility in the northern Greater Toronto Area, Li-Metal will be producing a lithium alloy shaped into ingots, the Li-Metal CEO said. The facility currently has an annual capacity of four to five tonnes and Li-Metal is working to raise that to 20 tonnes.

Godavarthy said Li-Metal is a “natural source” for Lyten because it wanted to source lithium metal from companies outside of China, while Li-Metal was seeking customers which consume large quantities of lithium metal, and source additional funds to scale-up its metal production and alloying process.

The aim of the partnership is to reach a commercial agreement and long-term partnership with Lyten, Godavarthy said.

Li-Metal’s goal is to produce alloyed ingots and have them qualified for battery use by 2025. Godavarthy said the company is in early discussions to explore producing 200 tonnes of lithium alloy ingots annually after 2025.

“We are enthusiastic to partner with Li-Metal to jointly advance the development of sustainable lithium metal production capacity and specialty ingots to support the commercialization of next-generation lithium sulfur battery technology,” Celina Mikolajczak, chief battery technology officer at Lyten, said in a release.

“We have been impressed with Li-Metal’s innovative, vertically integrated approach to the production of next-generation battery materials and look forward to continued collaboration, and to using Li-Metal’s ingots to establish a North American supply chain for next-generation batteries.”

Li-Metal’s plans for 2024

A key deliverable for Li-Metal in 2024 is its commercial anode machine, which remains under development. The machine is aimed at gigawatt-capacity customers, Godavarthy explained, noting it increases a company’s annual anode capacity from 20,000 square metres to two million square metres.

It is also nearing completion of an engineering study which is to be unveiled during the next few weeks.

By late 2024 to early 2025, Li-Metal is hoping to announce partnerships for its metal and an anode production site.

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