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Lithium Australia subsidiary bags Australian patent for Ni- and Co-free battery cathode powders

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Summary

  • The grant of a patent for nickel- and cobalt-free battery cathode powders is a major boost to Lithium Australia’s wholly owned subsidiary VSPC.
  • VSPC’s proprietary nanotechnology processes are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and relatively simple. 
  • VSPC is well-positioned to address the expected surge in demand from the phosphate-based battery cathode materials market, specifically lithium ferro phosphate.
  • The lithium ferro phosphate-type powders market is expected to register robust growth in the coming years. 

VSPC Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT), has secured patent protection in Australia to produce nickel- and cobalt-free battery cathode powders. The patent provides 20 years of IP protection in Australia as VSPC expands its quest for worldwide patent protection of this IP.

The latest addition to VSPC’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio puts the company in a solid position to cater to the projected expansion of the global market for phosphate-based battery cathode materials, particularly lithium ferro phosphate (LFP).

Lithium Australia, which seeks to vertically integrate the lithium supply chain for the global battery industry, announced that the patent covers what battery cathode powders are made of as well as the production process.  Triggered by the significant update, LIT shares jumped 4% on 4 August from the previous close, trading at AU$0.13 midday.

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Grant of the Australian patent

The VSPC process entitled ‘method for making lithium metal phosphates’ has been granted Patent Number 2020203801 by the Commissioner of Patents, with the earliest priority date of 2020-06-09. 

Significantly, VSPC, with over 20 years of experience in the research & development of nanotechnology processes, has spent the past 14 years applying those processes to next-generation cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs).

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Over the last couple of years, certain elements of VSPC’s proprietary nanotechnology have been simplified and adapted to enable use of a broader range of raw materials. Moreover, this has led to the development of a process with novel and inventive steps, thereby paving the way to granting of the latest patent. 

VSPC’s recently patented process can be used to manufacture LFP and lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP), both offering significant production cost reduction potential.         

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Why do phosphate-based cathode materials triumph over nickel-based counterparts?

LFP and LMFP cathode powders hold an advantage over nickel-based battery cathode materials with regard to production cost, safety, chemical stability, and service life.

Notably, LFP and LMFP use 20% lesser lithium than nickel-based cathode alternatives, reducing their dependence on critical metals, which are considered vulnerable to supply disruption and volatile pricing. 

LFP and LMFP developed by VSPC have their chemical and physical properties as well as electrical performance on par with or exceeding similar products that have been verified through independent testing. 

Advantages of using lithium phosphate as a precursor 

VSPC’s newly patented process holds significant potential to lower the number of steps between the mining of ore to producing battery cathode materials and, ultimately, new LIBs.

Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media, Data Source: LIT update, dated 4 August 2021

Moreover, when benchmarked with traditional production costs, the process shows a reduction of 15% in input chemical costs, which generally contributes significantly to the overall cost of producing cathode materials. 

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VSPC proprietary process tipped for future growth

VSPC recently dispatched its LMFP samples to battery manufacturers/potential customers in China, Japan, and South Korea. It is also advancing the development of other battery materials using its proprietary technology alongside commercial scale-up work on the newly patented process. 

With its proprietary technology offering a range of benefits, VSPC is set to leverage the rapidly expanding market for LFP-type powders. Interestingly, the LFP global market is expected to grow fivefold over the next ten years.


 


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