EcoGraf Limited's (ASX: EGR, FRA: FMK) environmentally friendly technology for purifying natural graphite into battery graphite meets the requirements for patentability, according to the International Preliminary Patent Examining Authority. The examiners classify the EcoGrafTM purification process as "novel and inventive." This important result paves the way for the granting of a patent.
After a detailed examination, the written opinion of the examiner of the International Preliminary Examining Authority is that all 25 patent claims are novel and inventive.
The patent application relates to the use of EcoGrafTM in connection with the production of battery anode material and high-purity graphite products, as well as the recycling of lithium-ion battery anodes. The EcoGrafTM process is a superior, environmentally safe HF-free purification technology that provides customers with sustainably manufactured high-performance graphite products for lithium-ion batteries and specialized industrial applications.
The bottom line is that anyone who patents their technology also always gives away their recipe, thus attracting new competitors. Many companies are therefore content to protect their know-how and do without a patent. EcoGraf takes the offensive approach. After all, the patentability of its process has already been confirmed by an independent body. However, the company is only at the beginning of the patent process. In the best case, the patent could become very valuable one day, because the cleaning of natural graphite with hydrofluoric acid, which is still exclusively practiced today, has a very negative impact on the life cycle assessment of Li-ion batteries in the long term. This must change if there is to be an environmentally friendly alternative. However, it should not be forgotten that the entire battery world has delegated the dirty work to China. 100 percent of processed natural graphite currently comes from there. 100 percent is processed with hydrofluoric acid. What a future patent is really worth will be seen at the latest when China converts its production - should that ever be the case.
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