Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) has received a clear International Preliminary Report on the patentability of the processes described in its patent application for the recovery of lithium phosphate from lithium-bearing solutions.
The International Examiner has indicated that all the claims in the application are novel, involve an inventive step and are applicable to industry.
The company’s proprietary SiLeachand LieNAprocesses recover lithium chemicals – as lithium phosphate (LP) – from a wide range of lithium-bearing materials.
Subsequent refining of the LP to the standards required for the production of lithium ferro phosphate (‘LFP’) LIBs is easily achieved. (LFP LIBs, which are enjoying renewed popularity in China, are the choice of battery for the Tesla Model 3 marketed there).
LFP batteries are also ideal for use in energy-storage systems (ESS) such as those being sold into the Australian market by Company subsidiary Soluna Australia Pty Ltd, which offers a range of battery storage modules for residential applications.
Together, Lithium Australia’s and ANSTO’s R&D on SiLeachand LieNAled to the unit process enhancements that optimise the recovery of lithium from low-tenor solutions, while managing water-balance challenges, to produce high-quality LP.
These give the company’s LP production process definite advantages over conventional recovery methods which result in the production of lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate.
The LP recovery process has been used to retrieve lithium from mixed metal dust and electrolyte materials recovered from spent lithium-ion batteries by Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd (a 90% owned subsidiary of Lithium Australia).
Patent application PCT/AU2019/050540 details Lithium Australia’s process for recovering LP from lithium-bearing solutions such as brine or pregnant process liquor.
Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin, said the receipt of a clear report on patentability for its application allows the company’s application to progress to national phase assessment in Australia and international jurisdictions.
Lithium Australia recently announced receipt of a ’Certificate of Grant’ from IP Australia for its revolutionary first-generation LieNAtechnology patent application. Achieving acceptance of this patent application within other international judications is also in progress.
Meanwhile, the company’s patent application for its second-generation LieNAtechnology within the same jurisdictions continues to progress.
Lithium Australia’s LP extraction and refining process not only gives its proprietary processes for the recovery of lithium from spodumene and mica a further competitive advantage but also appears to be the most efficient means of recovering lithium from spent batteries. And the LP itself is the ultimate feed for the production of LFP cathode materials,” Mr Griffin said.
“With LFP batteries recognised as the safest form of LIB, and regulatory pressure on fire safety in electrical vehicles, we’re likely to see enormous expansion in the LFP markets in Europe and North America. In fact, LFP as a LIB type is already prevalent in China, in electric vehicle and heavy transport applications.
“Let’s not allow valuable lithium to escape in waste streams. We must develop more sustainable operations for the battery industry, which, ultimately, will lead to decarbonisation of the global economy.”