Australian graphene maker, Talga Resources, is set to construct a A$1m 'demonstration-scale' graphene production plant in central Germany with the aim of commencing production by the end of this year.
Although other graphene manufacturing plants exist around the world including in China and Canada, Talga said its proposed plant will be the first in the world to commercially demonstrate true direct ore-to-graphene process technology capable of delivering industrial volumes for customer samples and/or sale.
It is expected that, pending Swedish trial mining approval in Q2 2015, graphite ore from Sweden will be transported directly by rail/road to the demonstration plant for maiden processing in Q3 2015.
While all costings and engineering are subject to final design work, it is anticipated the plant will cost less than Aud$1m (£520,000) and post commissioning can scale-up to generate an approximate annual graphene output of between 100-200 tonnes per annum.
The decision to establish the plant in Germany followed considerable interest in the Company’s development by graphene technologists and end-users requiring near term large sample sizes. Talga originally anticipated establishing a pilot scale plant in northern Sweden close to its world-class graphite deposits, however, the opportunity to expeditiously produce larger samples to meet development demand created an imperative to set up the initial facility in Germany.
German government district agencies offered a choice of industrial parks with existing suitable premises for lease, advantageous material processing permits and close proximity to the Talga Resources research program graphene analytics.
The agencies, State Development Corporation of Thuringia (LEG) and the Saxony Economic Development Corporation (SED), have a mandate to grow industrial technology clusters around research expertise and strongly encouraged Talga Resources to establish a local presence in Germany. Both offered a wide range of operational and investment incentives including non refundable loans (essentially grants) for up to 35% of fixed asset expenditure, public guarantees, labour incentives and generous R&D rebates.
Talga is currently conducting due diligence on the financial incentive packages and site location proposals.
While the demonstration plant will allow fast tracking of trial product, Talga expects its future full-scale processing will still be undertaken in Sweden.
Talga Resources has 100% ownership of 5 graphite assets in northern Sweden covering the full range of market flake size specifications. The most advanced of which (Vittangi) hosts the world’s highest grade JORC/NI 43-101 graphite resource.
Talga Resources MD Mark Thompson said: “The decision to proceed with a demonstration plant followed Talga’s success in moving its high-grade Swedish graphite ores from laboratory to bench top scale and replicating graphene process results in multiple countries with several parties.
“The next stage of development will expand to a locked-cycle demonstration scale plant able to produce meaningful quantities of graphene and by-product graphite for larger customer samples and/or material graphene sales in 2015. Pending fnal design, the new German plant has the potential to be one of the largest graphene production facilities in Europe.”
Underpinning the German plant decision, Talga has appointed Dr Georg Hochwimmer (Director of German company General Research GmbH) as Talga’s resident German Technical Manager.
Dr Hochwimmer is a former polymer chemist and material scientist who has worked for BASF and other technology companies in Germany. He has strong relationships with industrial groups developing graphene applications in Europe.