Q+A: AIDEN LEE:

Company wants to make Nevada a player in the green energy market powering electric vehicles

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Aiden Lee

Mon, Jun 10, 2024 (2 a.m.)

Graphjet Technology, a Malaysia-based company that recycles palm kernel shells to produce graphite and graphene, will construct a unique commercial and artificial graphite-production facility in Nevada.

To learn more about Graphjet, Vegas Inc asked Aiden Lee, CEO and co-founder of the business, about its proprietary technology, the Nevada facility and why clean energy is increasingly important.

Give me an overview of Graphjet Technology.

Graphjet Technology is the world’s first and only company with patented technology to recycle palm kernel shells to produce graphite and graphene.

We use palm kernel shells—an abundant natural resource in Malaysia (about 5 million metric tons per year)—that are generated in the production of palm seed oil to sustainably produce these materials for use in a range of next-gen products, such as electric vehicles, semiconductors and more. Graphite is a key and strategic material for making lithium-ion batteries, and we believe it’s more important than lithium.

Produced from graphite, graphene is a revolutionary new material known for high conductivity, high strength and ultra-lightweight. It is more than 100 times stronger than steel and five times lighter than aluminum.

Ultimately, our goal is to become the leading supplier of these strategic materials to the United States.

Tell me about the new green graphite facility in Nevada. What will its primary function be and how is it unique as a first-of-its-kind plant?

Our green graphite facility is expected to be capable of recycling up to 30,000 metric tons of palm kernel material equivalent to produce up to 10,000 metric tons of battery-grade, artificial graphite per year to support the production of enough batteries to power more than 100,000 electric vehicles per year.

Nevada is unique because it will be the first commercial facility in the United States to process green graphite directly from agricultural waste. This facility will (serve) as our launching into the U.S. electric vehicle market, making our product more available, accessible and cost effective for our customers. In addition to our operations in Malaysia, this facility will also strengthen our global production capabilities.

Further, this facility eliminates a conversion step in the production process. Our existing commercial plant in Malaysia processes palm kernel shells into hard carbon, which is then shipped to Nevada, but by using this new facility, we will be able to produce graphite more quickly and position Graphjet as a leading supplier of graphite in the U.S.

What are the logistics of this type of facility?

The facility is expected to create more than 500 high-skilled labor positions. Graphjet expects to invest between $150 million and $200 million into the facility and is currently evaluating financing and strategic options to fund the plant. We are aiming to commission and begin production at our new facility in 2026.

Why is Nevada a good destination for a Graphjet facility of this magnitude?

Nevada is a strategic location because it is located in close proximity to a large quantity of battery manufacturers and automotive OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). These manufacturers will require a significant amount of graphite for future EV battery production, and this facility will help streamline and optimize transportation logistics.

Why is renewable energy so important, and how are Graphjet and Nevada exemplifying that?

As new technologies develop that require more innovative forms of power, we need businesses and manufacturers that are capable of producing such materials. At the same time, businesses need these suppliers close to home. Graphjet is helping the U.S. grow and industrialize its EV market by building a greener supply chain and a better battery materials ecosystem. This helps the global critical minerals supply chain to de-risk and to reduce its dependency on one country.

The world needs more graphite and more cost-effective supply sources … that are also sustainable. Graphjet’s technologies cut our carbon footprint by up to 83% and reduce raw material and operational costs by up to 80% compared with traditional methods. Graphjet produces 2.95 C02 emissions per KG of graphite, compared with 17 C02 with synthetic graphite in China and even 9.2 with natural graphite in Canada.

Do you have anything else to add?

We founded Graphjet to produce graphite to support the clean energy transition and EV markets. With palm kernels being a byproduct of more than 5 million tons of waste per year in Malaysia alone, we found this model could help us power the future of electric vehicle technology while significantly reducing our carbon footprint and cost.

We are poised to become the leading source of graphite for the U.S., and we look forward to investing in Nevada and creating many local green energy jobs.

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This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.

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