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ChemX Materials hits major milestone with 4N HPA purity

A ChemX Materials chemist with an atomic absorption spectrometer. Credit: File

ChemX Materials has confirmed the significant 4N (99.99 per cent) purity results from its 100 per cent-owned high-purity alumina “micro-plant” in Perth’s southern suburbs in Western Australia.

The results were determined across an impressive spectrum of 66 elements and represent a key milestone for the company – achieved within just a year of commissioning its HPA facility ­– on its pathway to 5N (99.999 per cent) purity.

Most significantly, achieving the 4N quality designation with its “HiPurA” process means ChemX has produced material with fewer than 100 parts per million impurities, which is the base level purity required for testing and qualification for the global battery separator market.

4N purity is just shy of the holy grail of 5N. But even at 4N, companies in the same industry sphere, such as Alpha HPA, have been able to build to a commanding market cap.

Alpha’s market cap has today been hovering close to $700 million, while ChemX’s market cap is sitting at about $4.56 million.

The former confirmed its 4N results back in 2018 after assays were returned from the company’s world-first solvent extraction test run using its “HPA First” process. The company describes its mission as “sustainably producing a growing range of ultra-high purity aluminium oxides, hydroxides, nitrates and sulphates for a wide range of high-technology industries including LED lighting, synthetic sapphire, semiconductors and lithium-ion battery markets – at world-leading purity levels and at a dramatically lower-carbon profile”.

Alpha says it intends to showcase its technology through the delivery of its project in the Gladstone State Development Area in Queensland. The company revealed yesterday that it had agreed to key terms with the trustee of the Queensland Critical Minerals and Battery Technology Fund (QCMBTF) for up to $30 million of project funding to accelerate the roll -out of an initial 50 sapphire growth units.

This is a proud day for CMX shareholders and the team. Today’s breakthrough validates the disruptive nature of the HiPurA® process and ChemX views the ability to achieve bespoke high purity (4N) outcomes in a locally-based, scalable, modular format may be a game-changer for gigafactory feedstock management. Importantly, data obtained during the optimisation of the Micro Plant will be included in the current Pilot Plant (design) which will produce sufficient sample volumes for global customer qualification. ChemX Materials chief executive officer Peter Lee

HPA is a high-purity form of aluminium oxide (alumina), which is a critical battery material used as a separator coating and an essential compound required in the production of synthetic sapphire and LED lights.

The global demand for HPA is driven primarily by the rapid uptake of lithium-ion batteries (LiB) as the world transitions to renewable energy sources. The market price for HPA is strongly controlled by quality and in particular, the final alumina composition.

The HPA market is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.7 per cent and according to Allied Market Research, it is expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2026.

ChemX says it is now working to ensure repeatability of the 4N result through continued plant optimisation so it can ramp up the process to pilot plant status. It only commissioned its integrated HPA facility late last year with the goal of upscaling its HiPurA flowsheet from laboratory scale to continuous operation.

Management explains its HiPurA process as a disruptive flowsheet that converts aluminous chemical feedstocks through selective refining to HPA. Utimately, it aims to achieve the delivery of 4N-grade and potentially 5N HPA products for the electric vehicle battery separator and synthetic sapphire markets and for LEDs, semi-conductors and optical lenses.

ChemX says the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) recently issued an international preliminary report on the patentability of the HiPurA process, finding that it complied with novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability requirements. An international patent application is pending.

Meanwhile, the company is moving forward to make further strategic investments in high-purity analytical equipment and the necessary resources to help speed up process repeatability and optimisation.

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