Scandium International Mining Corp. [SCY-TSX; SCYYF-OTC] said Thursday September 24 that it has filed a provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent Office for the use of various applications of scandium in lithium-ion batteries.
The patent application covers a number of scandium enhancements, including doping potential for both anodes and cathodes, and for solid electrolytes, the company said.
Scandium International shares advanced on the news, rising 4.5% or $0.01 to 12 cents in light trading volume. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of 14 cents and $0.06.
Scandium is a soft, silver metallic element. It can be applied across the high-end range of existing aluminum alloys to produce significant performance gains. For example, adding scandium to aluminum adds considerable strength, retains weldability, and preserves notch strength and corrosion resistance in alloys.
Scandium International’s flagship asset is the Nyngan scandium project. It is located 500 km northwest of Sydney, Australia, 25 km west of Nyngan, and is 100%-owned by Scandium International and its Australian subsidiary, EMC Metals Australia Pty. Ltd.
Outside of existing by-product production in Russia and China, the Nyngan Project is the most advanced scandium development opportunity globally. With initial off-take contracts in place, the company said Nyngan is expected to be the world’s first scandium-only mine development project.
On Thursday, Scandium said it is applying for patents at a time when considerable effort is being expended in developing next-generation materials for lithium ion batteries that will make batteries safer, lighter, more durable, faster to charge, more powerful, and more cost-effective.
Some of those efforts include:
- Minimizing or removing cobalt from cathode materials, based on cost, supply and geographic sourcing issues.
- Improving the durability of liquid electrolytes with dopants, or substitution with safer and higher performing liquid or solid electrolyte systems.
- Determining combinations of metals that can better withstand harsh internal conditions.
“Scandium, along with other specialty metals, has a clear role to play in each of these areas,” the company said.
One particularly promising area for scandium contributions is in a lithium nickel manganese oxide (LNMO) battery. The cathode in this design substitutes manganese for cobalt, and supports a higher nickel content as well.
“The substitution then delivers higher working potentials (voltage), higher energy densities, and faster charge/discharge rates, all of which offer the promise of improved battery performance,” the company said.