LOCAL ion-battery leader Lithium Australia NL has moved to the next stage with its LieNA technology, which it says will reduce the environmental footprint of the lithium-ion battery (LIB) industry.
LieNA developed through several years of R&D undertaken in collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), has recently transitioned from a scoping study to preliminary feasibility study assessment.
According to Lithium Australia MD Adrian Griffin the LieNA technology avoids conventional high-temperature treatment (calcination) of spodumene concentrates and, unlike conventional conversion processes, is not constrained by particle feed size.
“Rather, it uses an alkaline source, such as caustic soda, at the temperature and pressure required to convert the mineral spodumene to a lithium-bearing sodalite phase. The sodalite is then recovered and selectively leached to produce a lithium-bearing solution that is further treated to produce a high-purity, refined tri-lithium phosphate (‘LP’) product.
Mr Griffin says LieNA offers a number of advantages in terms of spodumene processing, including:
- The ability to process fine spodumene feed stocks, which are currently problematic for conventional convertors and mineral concentrate producers.
- Production of high-purity battery chemicals without the need to produce sodium sulphate as a by-product, as is the case for conventional thermal spodumene converters. (It is expected that, longer-term, conventional converters will encounter issues in relation the sale or disposal of sodium sulphate as a by- product of lithium hydroxide production.)
- The option to produce a suite of lithium chemicals, including lithium phosphate, hydroxide, sulphate or chloride, from a single refinery.
- Direct production of lithium-ferro-phosphate (‘LFP’) cathode materials from LP by way of Lithium Australia’s 100% owned and patented VSPC Ltd cathode powder synthesis methods.
He said the company has already received enquiries for the potential supply of both LP and LFP to China.