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Production of Battery Grade Graphite Flakes


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Advanced Materials The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. OBJECTIVE: The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) seeks to provide responsive, best value supplies of related materials consistently to our Department of Defense (DoD) customers and other DoD stakeholders. DLA continually investigates diverse technologies for new or improved materials, more efficient means of their production, and more competitive domestic supply chains which would lead to higher levels of innovation in current and future systems combined with benefits to other commercial and government technology applications. In an effort to reduce costly foreign reliance and/or single points of failure, DLA is looking for domestic production of battery-grade graphite. The end goal of the project would be for the development of a domestic source that would produce industrial quantities of material with a fully domestic or friendly supply chain. New and novel ideas that would allow for competitive pricing with imported graphite and/or novel feedstocks will have preference. Ideally, the production process would be modular and scalable. Advanced technology demonstrations for increasing production capacity, affordability and supply chain resiliency for critical materials and processing are of high interest to DoD. These areas of materials and manufacturing technology provide potential opportunities toward achieving breakthrough advances for national defense. Proposed efforts funded under this topic may encompass diverse feedstock and processing at any level that will result in increasing production capacity, affordablity, and supply chain resiliency. Research and Development (R&D) efforts selected under this topic shall demonstrate and involve a degree of risk where the technical feasibility of the proposed work has not been fully established. Further, proposed efforts must be judged to be at a Technology and/or Manufacturing Readiness Level (TRL/MRL) 6 or less, but greater than TRL/MRL 3 to receive funding consideration. TRL 3. (Analytical and Experimental Critical Function and/or Characteristic Proof of Concept) TRL 6. (System/Subsystem Model or Prototype Demonstration in a Relevant Environment) DESCRIPTION: The Department Of Defense (DoD) has a need for robust battery-grade graphite supply chain to support operational requirements. To this end DLA is looking for domestic capabilities and capacity to produce graphite with purity (>99.95%) and properties appropriate for advanced battery manufacturing. Novel techniques that increase the domestic availability of technology for supply chain resiliency of strategic materials will have preference. Both natural and synthetic processing methods are of interest. A desire for the process to use friendly sources of feed materials is preferred but not required. The ideal production process will be both modular and easily scalable. PROJECT DURATION and COST: PHASE I: Not to exceed a duration of 6 months and cost of $100,000. PHASE II: Not to exceed a duration of 18 months and cost of $1,000,000. PHASE I: Phase I will consist of a full process flow including energy usage and waste generation. Then a lab-scale process should be used to confirm the estimates and provide preliminary cost and pricing data. A preliminary economic review must be carried out evaluating the cost vs. currently available products as well as determining the cost of production when using North American precursors to the greatest extent practical. Collboartion with a relavant DoD Component organzation (e.g., DoD lab and/or defense system program office) and one or more relavant DoD weapon system supply chain participants or other suitable organization is highly desirable. PHASE II: Phase II will consist of making a pilot/ low-rate production plant. Material produced will be characterized for purity, density, shape, etc. Two (2) or more sources of raw materials will be identified and tested in this process. Pricing and cost information will be validated. A business case will be generated using both DoD and commercial markets. Collboartion with a relavant DoD Component organzation (e.g., DoD lab and/or defense system program office) and one or more relavant DoD weapon system supply chain participants or other suitable organization is highly desirable. Identify commercial benefit or application opportunities of the innovation. Innovative processes should be developed with the intent to readily transition to production in support of DoD and its supply chains. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: At this point, no specific funding is associated with Phase III. Progress in Phase I and Phase II should result in the ability to produce to DoD orders and organic growth of business from there. REFERENCES: 1. Olsen, D. (2022). Mineral Commodity Summaries 2022 - Graphite. United States Geological Survey 2. Zhang, J., Liang, C., Dunn, J. (2023) Graphite Flows in the U.S.: Insights into a Key Ingredient of Energy Transition. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2023, 57, 8, 3402-3414 KEYWORDS: battery-grade graphite, flake graphite, spherical graphite (SPG), natural graphite, synthetic graphite, advanced battery technology, Li-ion battery
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