Zenyatta Ventures Ltd. ("Zenyatta" or "Company") (TSX VENTURE: ZEN) (OTCQX: ZENYF) today announced the delivery of 10 kilograms of high-purity Albany graphite to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ('BGU') and Larisplast Ltd. ("Larisplast") in Israel for the start of the next phase of testing of a pilot plant scale program.
The main objective of the pilot plant in Israel is to further test a new concrete admixture containing Albany derived graphene but with a much larger volume of concrete. The scientific and engineering data obtained will yield valuable information for potentially designing a larger scale demonstration plant. Recently, BGU demonstrated that the addition of the Company's graphene into concrete can achieve a faster curing time and a superior mechanical performance that inhibits premature failure and tolerates large forces like those produced during earthquakes or explosions. Also, this new admixture has the potential to reduce the amount of cement that will be used in construction, thereby considerably cutting carbon dioxide emissions related to its production.
Importantly, work has shown Zenyatta's Albany graphite is easily converted to graphene with significantly higher yields of graphene nano-particles than any other natural graphite types that were tested at BGU. Graphene was first produced in 2004 at the University of Manchester by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov who were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene." Graphene (or Carbon) is a single sheet of pure graphite that is one atom thick, flexible, transparent, light, stronger than diamonds or steel and is highly conductive. Graphene is making inroads in diverse industries, including transportation, medicine, electronics, energy, construction, defence and desalination. So far, one obstacle to its widespread use is the high manufacturing cost for high-quality graphene. A lower-cost approach is to use high-purity natural graphite, like Zenyatta's material, as the starting point.
Dr. Bharat Chahar, VP of Market Development for Zenyatta stated, "The graphene concrete application and composite material in general can potentially be a significant end use for our high-purity graphite material. Our initiative with Larisplast and BGU is an important and new target application for Albany graphite. We are very excited to start our pilot plant collaboration program with our Israeli partners while we continue to test and develop our material for Li-ion batteries, fuel cells, powder metallurgy and other applications with several global corporations."
Zenyatta, BGU and Larisplast have received grant funding from the Canada-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation under the Ontario-Israel Collaboration Program for this pilot scale test. Upon successful completion of testing, an Agreement between the Parties contemplates the formation of a new corporation ('Newco') jointly owned (50/50) by Zenyatta and Larisplast for the purposes of marketing this new specialized admixture product. Zenyatta would be the exclusive provider of purified graphite to Newco and any other party working with Larisplast on this technology.
Cement production for the concrete industry is a significant contributor of carbon dioxide which is a major greenhouse gas. Wide-spread use of a new graphene enhanced admixture product will have the potential to reduce the amount of cement used in construction and consequently cut considerable carbon dioxide emissions. In 2015, a total of 4.1 billion tonnes of cement was produced globally (Source: USGS). Approximately 25% of this total is in the use of Ultra-High Performance Concrete and High Performance Concrete which have the same ingredients as normal concrete but with special high cost additives. The potential increase in concrete performance enhanced with graphene would allow for a better and wider range of structures such as specialized bridges, taller buildings, marine structures and construction in seismically active areas. This could represent a very large and valuable target market for Zenyatta.
Larisplast is an industry leader in Israel specializing in the field of concrete admixtures. The company develops, produces, markets and distributes high quality products and materials for Israel's concrete industry according to strict Israeli's standards. Larisplast operates on a nationwide basis in Israel and is currently developing international markets and distribution channels.
BGU is a research leader in alternative energy, robotics and nano-technology while playing a critical role in transforming Israel's high-tech growth. Specifically, the BGU research group focuses on carbon nanotubes and graphene product derivatives for new applications. The Advanced Technologies Park (ATP), adjacent to BGU is home to many multi-national high-tech companies, such as EMC, Oracle, Hewlett Packard, and Deutsche Telekom, which are leveraging the R&D expertise of BGU mainly through B. G. Negev Technologies and Applications Ltd. ("BGN"). BGN is the technology transfer and commercialization company for development of university technologies with industry partners.
BGU's expertise in nanoscience is advancing new materials to convert light and heat into electrical energy, to produce lightweight cars and planes of unprecedented strength. Researchers are developing incredibly small transistors to power computers, membranes for desalinating water, graphene surfaces loaded with specific drugs for delivery to targeted diseased cells, graphene reinforcement in cement-based materials and hydrogen storage device as a key enabling technology for the advancement of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
Zenyatta continues to develop its rare igneous-hosted Albany graphite deposit in Ontario, Canada. The Company's highly crystalline graphite deposit is fluid-derived rather than the typical and abundant sedimentary flake type graphite deposits. Albany is the largest and only graphite project of its kind in the world and was discovered by Zenyatta while exploring for Copper-Nickel in 2011-12. The unusual geologic mode of formation accounts for the favourable purity, crystallinity and particle size of graphite found in the Albany deposit. Dr. Andrew Conly (Professor, Geology at Lakehead University) observed, "Evidence has shown that Zenyatta has discovered a unique sub-class of a hydrothermal graphite deposit unlike any other. Igneous breccia-hosted graphite deposits like Albany are very rare, and to the best of my knowledge, none are currently being mined or even in an advanced stage of exploration globally. The far more common flake-type (sedimentary) graphite deposits form through a completely different geological process."
The Albany graphite deposit is situated 30 km north of the Trans-Canada Highway, power line and natural gas pipeline near the communities of Constance Lake First Nation and Hearst. A rail line is located 70 km away with an all-weather road approximately 10 km from the graphite deposit. The world trend is to develop products for technological applications that need extraordinary performance using ultra-high purity graphite powder at an affordable cost. Albany graphite can be upgraded with very good crystallinity without the use of aggressive acids (hydrofluoric) or high temperature thermal treatment therefore having an environmental advantage over other types of upgraded high-purity graphite material.
The outlook for the global graphite market is very promising with demand growing rapidly from new applications. It is now considered one of the more strategic elements by many leading industrial nations, particularly for its growing importance in high technology manufacturing and in the emerging "green" industries such as electric vehicle components. The application for graphitic material is constantly evolving due to its unique chemical, electrical and thermal properties. It maintains its stability and strength under temperatures in excess of 3,000°C and is very resistant to chemical corrosion. It is also one of the lightest of all reinforcing elements and has high natural lubricating abilities. Some of these key physical and chemical properties make it critical to modern industry.
Mr. Aubrey Eveleigh, P.Geo., Zenyatta's President and CEO, is the "Qualified Person" for the purposes of National Instrument 43-101 and has reviewed, prepared and supervised the preparation of the technical information contained in this news release. Information Sources: LafargeHolcim, US Geological Survey ('USGS'), US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Transportation, Freedonia Group, Marca Espana, Macleans Magazine, UCLA newsroom & personal communication with engineering firms.