Lithium Australia, through its 90 per cent owned recycling division Envirostream Australia, has filed a patent application related to its alkaline battery separation process used in fertiliser micronutrients, as it looks to secure intellectual property protection for its battery recycling technology. The company recently launched an expanded field trial using the process to generate samples for manganese-deficient soils across four sites in WA and one in SA.
Lithium Australia, through its 90 per cent owned recycling business, Envirostream Australia, has filed a patent application related to its alkaline battery separation process used in fertiliser micronutrients, as it looks to secure intellectual property protection for its battery recycling technology. The company recently launched an expanded field trial using the process to generate samples for manganese-deficient soils across four sites in Western Australia and one in South Australia.
The provisional Patent Cooperative Treaty application, submitted with IP Australia, outlines the processes used to separate electrode materials from alkaline batteries.
About 10 per cent of spent batteries in Australia are currently recycled, with the remainder generally destined for landfill sites.
Lithium Australia is seeking to ensure that as many batteries as possible are recycled.
The patent application aims to provide intellectual property protection for the company’s battery recycling division as it positions itself at the forefront of innovative moves to divert the flow of battery waste to landfill.
Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin said:“The ability to add value to spent alkaline batteries is a further demonstration of Envirostream's leading edge in the field of battery recycling. A timely technical advance, it coincides with the introduction of the national battery stewardship scheme, designed to divert end-of-life batteries from landfill, and will enhance the value of the spent alkaline batteries available for recycling."
Envirostream is currently assessing the effectiveness of its recycled battery materials across a variety of different soil types in the WA and SA trials. Under the testing, micronutrients are bundled with mono-ammonium phosphate fertiliser.
The expanded trials add to work conducted in 2020 which showed successful uptake of micronutrients in a field setting. Last year’s results were reported to be comparable to or better than similar and commercially available treatments.
The manganese uptake showed a statistically significant trend over both the control group with no fertiliser and the other commercially available treatments, according to the company.
In the current trials, nine treatments instead of five are being deployed at dedicated Envirostream sites in WA and SA. Envirostream is looking for a similar or better uptake of manganese in the 2021 results.
In WA, the trial is being conducted under a collaboration with leading fertiliser supplier, Summit Ferilizers who has provided access to wheat and lupin growing sites for the trial.
The other sites in WA and SA have been seeded with wheat crops.
Envirostream also looks likely to be a major beneficiary of the introduction of an accredited process for the collection and recycling of end-of life batteries, with the launch of the Battery Stewardship Council’s national battery collection network scheduled for early next year.
Under the scheme, approved entities will be paid to collect and recycle hazardous and toxic spent batteries.
According to management, Envirostream operates the only commercial battery recycling facility in Australia. It is developing a mixed-battery collection system that is designed for convenience and to minimise environmental impact.
Lithium Australia appears to be well on its way to becoming a key player in Australia’s battery recycling industry as it looks to secure intellectual property protection for its battery recycling technology at a time when many new recycling initiatives are being adopted.
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