Malaysian startup supplies EV firm greener graphite with agriculture waste


A Malaysian startup has announced its capability to convert palm kernels into graphite. (Photo: iStock)

A Malaysian energy startup is ready to assist electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers in obtaining a crucial component from sources other than China by using agricultural waste to produce graphite.

Graphjet Technology has announced its capability to convert palm kernels into graphite, a vital component used in EV battery anodes, at its facility in Malaysia, which is among the world’s top producers of palm oil.

According to CEO Aiden Lee, the company, which commenced trading on Nasdaq on Mar. 15, anticipates commencing ingredient production in the second quarter, aiming for an annual capacity of 3,000 tons.

Most of the world's synthetic graphite production originates from petroleum coke, involving a costly and carbon-intensive procedure. Graphjet says that its process reduces the carbon footprint by 83% and lowers expenses by 80%.

While the company's anticipated output remains modest compared to the substantial global demand for this essential mineral, BloombergNEF estimates suggest it may increase to 2.4 million tons by 2030. However, Graphjet's production provides EV manufacturers with an alternative source to China, which currently supplies 90% of the synthetic variety.

Amidst China's increased control over the EV battery supply chain, particularly following its implementation of export controls on graphite products, the US has intensified efforts to reduce dependency on Chinese dominance.

According to BNEF, the implementation of these regulations on Dec. 1 could potentially require seeking alternative suppliers for at least 156,000 tons of annual battery-related graphite demand.

“US battery market is in need of a more reliable ex-China supplier of graphite, we can help fill a critical gap,” said Lee.

Graphjet intends to build a facility in Nevada and is in discussions with both the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Defense. Additionally, the company expects to establish facilities in Japan, South Korea, and Europe.

Graphjet became a publicly traded company this month following the completion of its merger with special-purpose acquisition company Energem Corp. It has secured a US$30 million offtake agreement with Toyoda Trike Inc., providing raw materials for the Japanese company's electric bicycles.

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