Focus Graphite Inc.
TSX VENTURE : FMS
OTCQX : FCSMF
FRANKFURT : FKC

Focus Graphite Inc.

February 26, 2015 15:58 ET

Focus Graphite's Coated Spherical Graphite Shows Superior Electrochemical Performance When Compared With Commercial Grades of Synthetic Graphite for Lithium Ion Batteries

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 26, 2015) - Focus Graphite Inc. (TSX VENTURE:FMS)(OTCQX:FCSMF)(FRANKFURT:FKC) ("Focus" or the "Company") is pleased to announce results from independent laboratory test work that was commissioned to compare Lac Knife carbon coated Spherical Graphite ("SPG") to commercially available carbon coated synthetic graphite currently being sold for use in anodes for lithium ion batteries.

Highlights

  • Coin cell test of Lac Knife Coated SPG yields a 99.35% efficient lithium ion battery, compared to Commercial Synthetic SPG for Li-Ion batteries that yielded lower battery coin cell test results showing 93.5% and 96.5% efficiency respectively.

  • Tests also show that the Focus fine lithium ion grade of SPG has both a much higher reversible capacity and lower irreversible capacity loss than either of the two commercial grades of synthetic SPG. Although the electrochemical performance of the synthetic graphite grade is very good, they are inferior to that of the Focus lithium ion fine grade of SPG.

  • Long term cycling tests indicate that cells produced with Lac Knife natural flake graphite concentrate will also be more stable than those produced with synthetic graphite.

"Focus Graphite is unique in the graphite mining sector, in that we have actual technical and operational experience in graphite mining and processing and transformation into value added graphite products. The work we are undertaking is designed to give confidence to our potential customers that the technical performance, economic and environmental aspects of Lac Knife graphite products are second to none. We commissioned this test work to show that Lac Knife graphite can ultimately be transformed into an SPG for use in anodes for lithium ion batteries. This SPG shows better performance characteristics than the synthetic graphite that is currently used by some well-known battery manufacturers," tated Don Baxter, President and Chief Operating Officer. "Current markets show that natural SPG sells for considerably less than half the cost of synthetic graphite for batteries and, yet, it performs better. Also, Focus' Lac Knife natural flake graphite concentrate can be processed in an environmentally sustainable manner, using Hydro Quebec hydroelectric power, that produces relatively negligible C02 emissions, compared to natural flake graphite processed in China, or energy intensive synthetic graphite produced from petroleum coke."

Table 1 - Comparison of Two Commercial Fine Grades of Synthetic Graphite with Focus's Fine Grade of Carbon Coated Spherical Graphite (SPG)

Focus Graphite Coin Cell Test Samples Reversible Capacity (Ah/Kg) Irreversible Capacity 1st Cycle Loss (%) Capacity After 1st Cycle Loss (Ah/Kg)
Focus Li Ion Fine Grade of Coated SPG 0.65%
D50= 21.44um,Tap Density = 0.93 g/cc 366.0 (99.35% efficient) 363.6
Surface Area= 0.44m2/g,
Commercial Li Ion Synthetic Grade # 1 6.45% 324.8
D50=15.8 um,Tap Density = 0.88 g/cc 347.2 (93.55% efficient) (10.7% lower)
Surface Area (SA) = 0.97 m2/g
Commercial Li Ion Synthetic Grade # 2 3.46% 333.4
D50=20.6um,Tap Density = 0.97 g/cc 345.4 (96.54% efficient) (8.3% lower)
Surface Area = 1.15 m2/g

Testing was conducted by two different globally recognized laboratories with particular expertise in processes related to lithium ion battery technologies. Its clients are some of the most advanced governmental laboratories and technology-related corporations in the world. The first laboratory, which is located in North America, has completed its testing and has measured the performance properties of upgraded Lac Knife value added products on an environmentally sustainable basis. The second laboratory which is located in Europe has just released some initial long term cycling test results which will be presented later in this news release. Focus Graphite has withheld the name of both of the laboratories for reasons of commercial and competitive confidentiality.

The first test work that was performed, compared the initial electrochemical and key physicochemical properties of two commercial carbon coated synthetic graphite products with Focus Graphite's carbon coated natural flake SPG. Both of which are engineered for use in the anodes of Lithium Ion batteries, a significant and growing market for natural flake graphite

As shown in Table 1, the cell that was made with Focus's fine grade of SPG has a Reversible Capacity (RC) of 366.0 Ah/Kg that is much higher than the RC's of the cells produced with the two synthetic grades at 347.2 and 345.4 Ah/g. In addition the extremely low Irreversible Capacity Loss (ICL) of 0.65% shows that the Focus SPG produces a much more efficient cell which is shown by the higher first cycle capacity loss of the cells produced with the two synthetic grades at 6.45 and 3.46% ICLs. Taking this comparison of performance one step further shows that after the first cycle, the capacities of the two synthetic cells end up being lower than the Focus cells by 10.7% and 8.3%. Irreversible capacity loss means that a portion of the valuable lithium and graphite is wasted. This will reduce the efficiency and increase the cost of the battery.

The results shown in Table 1 were calculated from the data presented in the Galvanostatic curves shown in Figure 1 below.

To view Figure 1: Initial Galvanostatic charge-discharge curves for Focus SPG Fine grade in comparison to Synthetic Graphite #1 and Synthetic Graphite #2, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/994170t1.png.

The Focus fine grade of carbon coated SPG is seen to have a near theoretical 366.01 Ah/kg reversible capacity and an extremely low irreversible capacity loss of 0.65% both indicating potentially remarkable performance metrics in Lithium-Ion batteries.

There are probably at least two reasons for these excellent results. The first is the extremely high purity of the Lac Knife graphite which was purified to a level of 99.98% carbon before being used to produce the value added spherical graphite. The high purity of Lac Knife's natural flake graphite allows for easy transport of lithium ions during the charging and discharging cycles of the cell thereby trapping fewer lithium ions in the graphite.

The second reason for these excellent results can actually be seen in the comparison of the photomicrographs of Focus's SPG and the synthetic graphite. The first photomicrograph is of Focus's SPG in Figure 2 showing how successful we were in producing spherical particles that are critical to the performance of the graphite in Li Ion batteries. Actually the preferred shape of graphite particles used in Li Ion batteries is spherical because it makes it easier to fabricate the electrodes. Furthermore it is also easier to control the porosity of the electrodes because of the higher tap densities attained with spherical particles.

To view Figure 2, SEM of Focus's SPG fine grade, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/994170t2.png.

The SEMs presented by Figures 2 and 3 offer morphological peculiarities of Synthetic graphite #1. It is very obvious that this grade is very far from having spheroidal particle architecture. In general, because of the blocky nature of synthetic graphite, it is very difficult to spheronize. One can see that an attempt was made in that some particles have rounded edges, yet the bulk of material is irregular matter. The irregular shapes are most likely the air-milled, graphitized pieces of synthetic graphite.

To view Figure 3. SEM of Synthetic Graphite #1, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/9941703.jpg.

Both first cycle loss and long term cycling studies were conducted in coin cells in an effort to develop a better understanding of how the high quality of the purified Lac Knife graphite compares with the performance of synthetic graphite in Li Ion batteries. The initial tests were conducted on 200 mesh fines recovered from the pilot plant tests run at SGS Laboratories in Lakefield, Ontario Canada in April of 2013. These fines were purified to a level of 99.95+ % graphitic carbon and tested "as is" in coin cell 2016 configuration half elements without spheronization and carbon coating as was done in the previous tests.

The Galvanostatic charge and discharge profile of the half cells is given in Figure 4.

To view Figure 4, Charge and discharge profile of half-cell based on Sample I (Bulk -200) at current density C/10, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/994170t4.png.

The first cycle reversible capacity of the half-cell made from the purified 200 mesh was 362 Ah/Kg. Although this was lower than what was obtained with a properly sized, spheronized and carbon coated Lac Knife graphite, it is higher than what is achieved with commercially available synthetic graphite. Of course since the 200 mesh fines were used "as is", the Irreversible Capacity Loss was 9% that is much higher than what was reported in Table 1 with properly prepared material. However the interesting data developed in these tests occurred in the long term cycling tests which are shown in Figure 5 below.

To view Figure 5, Focus non-spheronized -200 mesh natural graphite, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/994170t5.png.

These tests were conducted by first cycling the cell made with the 200 mesh fines against the lithium anode for 5 cycles and after that subjecting the cell to prolonged cycling at a higher current density of 50 mA/g. What is immediately apparent is that the capacity of the cell made with the 200 mesh fines remains relatively stable throughout full 60 cycles of the test. This compares with a reported 6% loss in capacity after 60 cycles in cells made with a commercial grade of synthetic graphite. Of course much more work is planned to conduct long term cycling on cells made with properly sized, spheronized and carbon coated Lac Knife graphite.

Test work is ongoing on long term cycling for Focus SPG and the tested synthetic graphite. Focus is continuing to optimize the battery grade process flow sheet, and is concurrently engineering the process in order to present a Feasibility Level design OPEX and CAPEX for this value added process. Ultimately the process is not complicated, and current cost estimates are showing competitive levels.

Qualified Person

Mr. Don Baxter, P. Eng., President and Chief Operating Officer of the Company, a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101 - Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects, has reviewed and approved the technical content of this news release.

About Focus Graphite

Focus Graphite Inc. is an emerging mining development company with an objective to produce value added products initially for the lithium ion battery market from the Lac Knife graphite deposit located south west of Fermont, Québec. The Lac Knife project hosts a NI 43-101 Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource Estimate* of 9.6 million tonnes (432,000 tonnes Measured and 9,144,000 tonnes Indicated) grading 14.77% graphitic carbon (Cg) as natural flake graphite with an additional Inferred Mineral Resource Estimate* of 3.1 million tonnes grading 13.25% Cg. Focus' goal is to assume an industry leadership position by becoming a low-cost producer of technology-grade graphite. The Feasibility Study filed with SEDAR on August 8, 2014 for the Lac Knife Project indicates the project is economically viable and has the potential to become a low cost graphite producer based on 7.86 million tonnes (429,000 tonnes Proven and 7,428,000 tonnes Probable) of Proven and Probable Reserves grading 15.13 Cg. On May 27, 2014 the Company announced the Potential for High Value Added Sales in the Li-Ion Battery Sector following battery coin cell tests performed on Lac Knife Spherical Graphite ("SPG"). Testing measured the performance metrics and confirmed Focus' capability to tailor lithium ion battery anode grade graphite and value added products to meet the most stringent customer specifications. Focus Graphite is a technology- oriented enterprise with a vision for building long-term, sustainable shareholder value. Focus also holds a significant equity position in graphene applications developer Grafoid Inc.

* Mineral resources are not mineral reserves and do not have demonstrated economic viability

Forward Looking Statement

This News Release contains "forward-looking information" within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation. All information contained herein that is not clearly historical in nature may constitute forward-looking information. Generally, such forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved". Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including but not limited to: (i) volatile stock price; (ii) the general global markets and economic conditions; (iii) the possibility of write-downs and impairments; (iv) the risk associated with exploration, development and operations of mineral deposits; (v) the risk associated with establishing title to mineral properties and assets; (vi) the risks associated with entering into joint ventures; (vii) fluctuations in commodity prices; (viii) the risks associated with uninsurable risks arising during the course of exploration, development and production; (ix) competition faced by the Company in securing experienced personnel and financing; (x) access to adequate infrastructure to support mining, processing, development and exploration activities; (xi) the risks associated with changes in the mining regulatory regime governing the Company; (xii) the risks associated with the various environmental regulations the Company is subject to; (xiii) risks related to regulatory and permitting delays; (xiv) risks related to potential conflicts of interest; (xv) the reliance on key personnel; (xvi) liquidity risks; and (xvii) the risk of potential dilution through the issue of common shares.
Forward-looking information is based on assumptions management believes to be reasonable at the time such statements are made, including but not limited to, continued exploration activities, no material adverse change in metal prices, exploration and development plans proceeding in accordance with plans and such plans achieving their stated expected outcomes, receipt of required regulatory approvals, and such other assumptions and factors as set out herein. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such forward-looking information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking information. Such forward-looking information has been provided for the purpose of assisting investors in understanding the Company's business, operations and exploration plans and may not be appropriate for other purposes. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. Forward-looking information is made as of the date of this News Release, and the Company does not undertake to update such forward-looking information except in accordance with applicable securities laws.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the accuracy of this release.

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