- Lithium Australia has been awarded a patent by IP Australia for SiLeach®, its lithium extraction technology.
- The patent offers the company 20 years of legal protection in Australia from 9 February 2017.
- LIT was also granted a US patent for the same lithium extraction technology (SiLeach®) in February this year.
- SiLeach® process allows low-energy recovery of lithium from micas in a cost-efficient manner.
In another significant milestone, ASX-listed explorer Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) has received an Australian patent for its revolutionary lithium extraction technology, SiLeach®. Significantly, IP Australia has awarded a ‘Certificate of Grant’ for SiLeach® patent (first generation), providing 20 years of legal protection in Australia from 9 February 2017.
The Company’s proprietary SiLeach® process, which allows low-energy recovery of lithium from micas, could prove to be a potential shortcut in producing lithium-ion batteries.
In February this year, the Company was granted a US patent for SiLeach®, which enjoys 17 years of legal protection in the US.
A snapshot of the robust SiLeach® process
Designed specifically for lithium mica minerals, SiLeach® is a fluorine-assisted, acid-leach recovery process. It should be noted that the SiLeach® process eliminates much of the evaporation requirement.
SiLeach® holds merit over other competing processes, especially regarding lithium recovery from low-tenor solutions. It not only minimises the capital cost of evaporators but also cuts down the high-energy costs associated with evaporation. In addition, lithium is directly precipitated as a phosphate followed by subsequent refining, providing the potential for direct feed into producing lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) cathode powders.
Source: LIT Update, dated 3 June 2021
Lithium Australia leveraging synergies for lithium extraction
Lithium Australia is working with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to advance research & development (R&D) on its revolutionary lithium-recovery technologies for producing critical battery chemicals.
The Company’s lithium extraction technologies are focused on low-grade and waste materials such as lithium micas, fine spodumene, and spent lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). The technologies aim to provide the LIB industry with efficient and sustainable options for processing as well as production while minimising the industry’s environmental footprint.
Ensuring legal protection of the revolutionary technologies
Lithium Australia has submitted patent applications for most of the technologies stemming from its R&D programs, including:
- SiLeach® to recover lithium and other valuable by-products from mica.
- LieNA® to recover lithium from spodumene concentrates, especially fine and low-grade spodumene.
- Lithium recovery as lithium phosphate from brine or pregnant process liquor.
- Lithium phosphate refining to achieve an ultra-pure (>99.9%) chemical.
Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media, Data Source: LIT ASX update, dated 3 June 2021
The World Intellectual Property Organisation has published the second-generation SiLeach® patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, with a priority date of 30 May 2018.
Moreover, the International Searching Authority has provided a written opinion on the application’s patentability, confirming the novelty and inventiveness of the claims. The patent application (PCT/AU2019/050541) has been lodged in the US, Australia, Chile, Europe, Brazil, and Canada.
LIT positioned well in the expanding LFP market
Through its 100%-owned subsidiary VSPC Ltd, the Company has produced LFP cathode powder from tri-lithium phosphate, which was in turn generated via the SiLeach® process. Lithium phosphate production is a common thread in LIT’s proprietary extraction technologies and an essential ingredient for producing LFP cathode powder. Subsequently, battery cells were manufactured using the LFP as part of testing, which generated positive results.
Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media, Data Source: LIT update, dated 3 June 2021
Furthermore, there have been significant market trends favouring LFP including:
- Increase in the LFP production capacity by BYD, a major Chinese LIB producer.
- BYD is introducing its LFP-propelled Han sedan in the European markets.
- The Tesla Model 3 manufactured in China utilises LFP batteries. They are now being introduced into 10 European jurisdictions.
- Producers of the energy-storage products are also leveraging the superior safety and longevity of LFP.
Meanwhile, the shifts in legislation in Europe, China and North America would necessitate fire protection for EVs using nickel-based battery packs. It is also anticipated to expedite a shift to LFP, which is considered as the ‘safe’ LIB.
LIT stock traded 4.347% higher at AU$0.120 on 3 June 2021.