It seems like it was only last week that I was writing about nanomaterials and how they were going to save the world by making everything better. Oh wait, it was just last week. I guess the difference here is that this company has an actual resource (targeting silica in quartzites) that would supply their proprietary nanocoating technology. Nope, that’s almost the same as well. So to quote baseball’s philosopher, Yogi Berra, it’s déjà vu all over again. Today is another story about nanomaterials that look like they have the potential to improve the technology required to lower our carbon footprint and make the air we breathe a little cleaner.
The company being discussed this time around is NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM | OTC: NBMFF). A six-month chart of this stock will tell you that there is plenty of buzz around what is happening, given it has traded in a range of $0.14/share to as high as $1.31, closing yesterday at $0.89. Most of this activity is being driven by the steady stream of exciting news that comes out on an almost weekly basis. Two of the biggest surges in the stock price came first in early June when the Company made the remarkable announcement that its nanocoated silicon anode allows for a safe full charge on small battery cells within 5 minutes leading to a two-day rally of 62%. Then this past Friday NEO reported the first prototype of silicon anode active materials has been successfully produced, and samples have been sent to partners for full cell evaluation and electrochemical characterization. The latest news causing the stock to surge 30% on the day with further follow through on Monday adding another 14% to the share price.
These are some pretty stunning moves so let’s look a little closer at what this all means in the grand scheme of things and why the stock may be responding like it is to this news. The first news seems pretty obvious to me, recharging a battery in 5 minutes is impressive no matter how you look at it. If we could all recharge our smartphone, wearable device, tablet, laptop, cordless yard equipment, etc. in 5 minutes, life would be a whole lot more convenient. But convenience isn’t going to save the earth. Where this becomes a game changer is if they can evolve this technology for use in the Li-Ion batteries used in EVs. Imagine the change in adoption of EVs over internal combustion engines if you can recharge your battery in almost the same amount of time it takes to fill a vehicle with gas. It almost wouldn’t matter what the range of the battery is as long as there was adequate charging capability. Going to Starbucks for a coffee? Plugged in the car before I went in and it was charged when I came out. Stopping by the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up something for dinner? No problem, also charged the car while I was in the store.
Perhaps I’m getting a little bit utopian but it’s hard to argue that an EV that could charge in 5 minutes wouldn’t be revolutionary. This leads us to the latest news from the Company, the first working set of NEO’s proprietary silicon anode materials has been manufactured through their unique process. This prototype will be utilized by NEO’s third-party partners for evaluating the performance and efficacy of NEO’s silicon anodes in each respective party’s cell system and environment. The Company expects this development to act as a catalyst to accelerate the commercialization of its silicon anode active materials. Another critical piece of information in the latest press release was the signing of two new Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with global top-tier battery material producers in China and South Korea for NEO’s innovations with silicon. They are getting the word out and in front of the right people to make something happen.
The Company raised $2 million in early May and had a cash balance of $872,171 as of their May 31st financials. NEO has likely raised another $1.4 million from the exercise of in-the-money ($0.30 strike) warrants that were set to expire on August 21st. There are still 17 million warrants outstanding but with an expiry date of May 2024, who knows if/when those might get exercised. In the meantime, there should be enough cash to continue operations for a couple of more months at which point in time we will see what’s next for NEO Battery Materials. They may have to go back to the market to raise some capital, or perhaps a JV with one of their NDA partners will provide some financial support. Regardless, there are some exciting things happening that will keep investors on the edge of their seats for the foreseeable future.