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Lithium Australia produces Li-ion batteries from mine waste

Lithium Australia produced Li-ion batteries from waste tri-lithium phosphate

Lithium Australia advises that its wholly owned subsidiary, VSPC Ltd, has successfully produced lithium ion battery cathode material, and Li-ion batteries, from tri-lithium phosphate produced directly from mine waste using the SiLeach process.

This ground-breaking process, removes the requirement for generation of high-purity lithium hydroxide or carbonate which has long been one of the most cost-intensive, and challenging steps in the manufacture of Li-ion batteries.

The tri-lithium phosphate was converted to lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cathode material at the advanced electrochemical laboratory and pilot plant facility in Brisbane, Queensland operated by VSPC.

The proprietary processes used to generate the LFP nanoparticles is covered by patents granted to VSPC.

The cathode material was characterised by XRD and SEM, and determined to be of similar quality to VSPC standard LFP material.

Li-ion batteries (2032 coin cells) were subsequently produced and tested under a range of charge and discharge conditions and the cells achieved equivalent performance to VSPC’s advanced cathode powders, which use lithium carbonate as the manufacturing feed.

Battery performance compares very favourably against cells using standard VSPC cathode material produced with industry standard lithium carbonate.

The demonstrated ability to bypass lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide as battery precursors provides potential to significantly reduce the cost battery manufacture. Not only that, the use of mine waste in the battery production cycle can provide greater sustainability to global lithium resources.

Lithium Australia is also developing the process for direct production of cathode powders from lithium brines, to not only eliminate the requirement to produce high-purity lithium hydroxide or carbonate but to reduce the requirement for evaporation ponds.

Mine waste, to Li-ion batteries without the requirement to produce a lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate precursor is a world first. This has the potential to provide a commercial outcome to many stranded resources creating ethical and sustainable supply in the process.

Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said: “The remarkable outcome is a credit to our development team. The most notable aspect of this achievement is its simplicity, and ability to streamline the processes and cost required to produce LIB cathode materials. The broader application to lithium brine exploitation provides enormous potential for that part of the lithium industry, by removing the cost intensive route to lithium hydroxide – the direct use of lithium phosphate to produce cathode powders may do that.”

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