28/10/2020 - 15:12

Lithium Australia locks down US patent for extraction technology

28/10/2020 - 15:12

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ASX-listed Lithium Australia has succeeded in securing critical protection for the intellectual property around its revolutionary lithium recovery technology after scoring a US patent for its proprietary extraction process. The US Patent and Trademark Office has approved an application for “SiLeach”, a low-energy process for the recovery of lithium from micas and clays.

Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin. Credit: File

ASX-listed Lithium Australia has succeeded in securing critical protection for the intellectual property around its revolutionary lithium recovery technology after locking down a US patent for its proprietary extraction process.  The US Patent and Trademark Office has approved an application for “SiLeach”, a low-energy process for the recovery of lithium from micas and clays.

The approval is a significant development for the company and its R&D partner, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, or “ANSTO”.

Lithium Australia said its SiLeach technology aims to deliver efficient, sustainable processing production options for low grade lithium that in some cases would have been considered waste.

The company has focussed its collaborative research efforts with ANSTO on lithium extraction from waste materials, including mica and other clays, fine spodumene and spent lithium-ion batteries.

The SiLeach technology is a fluorine-assisted acid-leach recovery process designed specifically for lithium mica minerals.  Unlike other processes, the SiLeach process contains specific fluorine removal steps in order to optimize the handling of fluorine generated during the decomposition of the mica minerals.

Lithium Australia’s approach eliminates much of the requirement for roasting, which is an energy hungry expensive processing route to take.

The Perth-based company has also lodged other patent applications for much of the technology coming out of its research and development programs, including the “LieNA” process that also extracts lithium from fine or low grade spodumene, including from tailings or mine waste.

Another process under patent application is its technology around the recovery and refining of lithium as a tri-lithium phosphate.

According to Lithium Australia, tri-lithium phosphate is a key ingredient in the production of lithium ferro phosphate, or ‘LFP’, the material that will power Tesla 3 electric vehicles not only in China, but around the globe.

Interestingly, Lithium Australia said LFP provides a much safer alternative to more conventional LIB chemistries and does so at a much-reduced production cost.  EV makers in China are reportedly very confident that demand for LFP will continue to grow.

Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin said: Granting of the US SiLeach patent at a time of increased interest in the extraction of lithium from clays in north America is very timely … even more so as LFP is the most rapidly expanding sector of the LIB industry.”

“Both the lithium and phosphorus required to manufacture LFP are produced by SiLeach as a single lithium chemical. Anyone with a lithium mica or clay deposit is welcome to get in touch and see what we can offer, as are cathode producers interested in discussing a more direct route to LFP synthesis using VSPC cathode powder production technology.”

 

Is your ASX listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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