Lepidico Ltd (ASX:LPD) has successfully produced a high specification sample of caesium-rubidium formate brine which has the potential for use by the oil and gas and renewable energy industries.
The process technology for producing the heavy formate brine at the company’s Pilot Plant 1 is owned by Lepidico and subject to a stand-alone international patent application.
Lepidico Managing Director, Joe Walsh said this is the first time an adequate quantity of such liquor has been available for product research and development purposes.
The brine was concentrated using a Lepidico proprietary process technology to produce intermediate crystallisation products and a brine containing rubidium and caesium sulphates, which was subsequently converted to a formate.
The specification of this caesium-rubidium formate appears to meet key criteria for oil and gas industry applications.
Caesium and rubidium naturally occur in lepidolite, which, when processed using Lepidico’s L-Max technology, report through to one of two non-lithium streams; a brine liquor or an alum-residue. Approximately 100 litres of rubidium-caesium brine was collected during the Pilot Plant Campaign.
“Production of a caesium-rubidium formate with an SG greater than 2.2, good clarity and low levels of deleterious elements is a major advance in the initiative to commercialise this material as a valuable by-product from the planned Phase 1 Plant,” Mr Walsh said.
Work is ongoing to produce other caesium and rubidium compounds that have potential application in the oil and gas industry, as well as in the manufacture of perovskite-containing solar cells.”
Caesium formate is a high value compound that can be mixed with less expensive potassium formate to make clear brine mixtures with a density range from 1.8 to 2.4 g/cm3. Caesium compounds have a variety of applications albeit it relatively small quantities.
Consumption, import, export and price data for caesium and rubidium compounds are not available as they are not traded in commercial quantities.
In May 2018, the U.S. Department of the Interior published a list of 35 critical minerals which included caesium, rubidium and lithium minerals.