Talga kickstarts global role for Cambridge’s cleantech sector
Talga Technologies, the advanced materials technology company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange company, is scaling up its R&D operations at the Bradfield Centre on Cambridge Science Park.
The move comes as tests show that Talga’s Li-ion battery anode product, Talnode-C, outperforms existing lithium battery technology in cold weather situations, where lithium products have traditionally struggled.
“We make graphene and graphite materials,” says Talga Resources R&D manager, Sai Shivareddy. “Graphene is made by an electrochemical exfoliation process in an aqueous electrolyte – water plus salt – by using our natural graphite rocks in electrodes.”
Talga has an 11-strong team at the Bradfield as well as an office at the Maxwell Centre investigating how to scale up production using this new process. Scaling up production is now within reach following the discovery of millions of tonnes of copper-cobalt deposits – which contains the graphite from which graphene can be developed – at Talga’s site in Kiskama in northern Sweden.
Talga managing director Mark Thompson said: “The maiden JORC-compliant mineral resource estimate for Kiskama has achieved a solid base from which to lift the project above exploration level.
“In addition, the timing of its potential further development is right to match the growing need for conflict-free sources of critical minerals, such as cobalt, to make lithium-ion batteries in Europe.”
Freed from dependence on sources in China and Japan, the European market is set to blossom.
“We are targeting exponential growth in battery making facilities in Europe,” Dr Shivareddy says. “Being in Sweden gives us security of supply. If 30 per cent of vehicles in Europe were electric, you’d need three million tons of graphite and at the moment Europe makes not even one per cent of that. Big resources are needed to make the shift to a sustainable low carbon economy, and we take clean technology very seriously.”
Talga's technology also solves a long-running issue - charging at low temperatures.
"We've solved the issue of charging at low temperatures," says Sai. Talnode-C retains 100 per cent capacity and 100 per cent cycle efficiency at 0°C, outperforming current commercial products in tests at a leading independent battery institute in Japan. Talga's high-energy battery anode products also offer 70 per cent more density than graphite-only anodes, adding further performance gains.
Significant resources to develop the cleantech sector are now starting to gear up in Cambridge. Jeanette Walker, director of the Science Park, is developing a cleantech model which will work along the lines of the shared-resources model that works so well in the life sciences sector. The model involves a conference organised by Cambridge Cleantech on September 17, and also includes the foundation of the new Centre for Energy and Renewable Technology Research, based at the old Abcam building on the park.
“This development is all based around the ambition of the Science Park to be a global leader of renewable and sustainable technologies,” Jeanette told the Cambridge Independent. “There are benefits in colocation and resource-sharing and that’s worked for biotech, so it can work for renewables, including for instance electric vehicles. This is a model that doesn’t exist in the UK, particularly for early-stage companies emerging out of university.”
The ambition will be kickstarted on September 17, when the Bradfield Centre hosts an all-day conference titled Energy and Renewable Technologies – Opportunities & Challenges. Speakers from 8Power, Innovate UK, Echion, Zinergy and Riversimple will be joined by Sai Shivareddy, whose talk is titled ‘The challenges of battery technologies in terms of charging’.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Energy and Renewable Technology Research is set to open next spring.
“It hasn’t been refurbished yet,” concludes Jeanette. “We’re open to suggestions on whether it would be membership-based, or colocation, or sharing resources, or something else.”