THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary company, VSPC Ltd, used lithium phosphate (LP) from spent lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) to create high-quality cathode material.
The material was, in turn, used to make and test lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) batteries, a type of LIB.
Lithium Australia explained that Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) used company technology to recover LP with a purity of more than 99.9 per cent from mixed metal dust (MMD) obtained from recycled LIBs.
The MMD was then commercially recovered by Melbourne-based Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd, in which Lithium Australia holds 18 per cent equity.
Envirostream is the only company in Australia capable of sorting, shredding and separating all energy metals, including lithium, from spent LIBs.
Once ANSTO had recovered the LP, it was shipped to VSPC’s pilot plant in Brisbane, Australia, where VSPC proprietary nanotechnology was used to synthesise LFP cathode material from the LP, with 100 per cent recovery to final product achieved with precise control of composition and phase purity.
Using that LFP cathode material, VSPC created new, 2032 coin-cell LIBs and electrochemically tested them, exceeding VSPC’s internal standards.
Lithium Australia declared that the achievement demonstrated the technological fit between its recycling process and the VSPC process for producing cathode material for LFP batteries.
The company believes the entire production cycle (lithium from recycled batteries → LP → LFP cathode material → new LIBs) demonstrates the potential for improved efficiency and reduced manufacturing cost.
VSPC will now use a blend of newly created LFP material and LFP material synthesised from recycled lithium to make and test cathodes for larger, commercial-format (18650) battery cells.
Lithium Australia indicated it is currently in discussions with industry players in China and elsewhere to establish a supply chain for LFP cathode material produced from the recycling of spent LIBs, highlighting that growth projections for such material are strong, given its suitability for applications such as the replacement of automotive lead-acid batteries and for largescale energy storage, including the provision of back-up power supplies for 5G communications stations.
“The production of LIBs from recycled battery material represents a genuinely renewable pathway for the battery industry,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“Recycling of this type meets the ethical, social and governance standards that the community expects.
“It also strengthens our capacity to deal with climate change by improving resource sustainability and reducing the environmental footprint of portable power.
“With demand for LIBs remaining strong, Lithium Australia is providing a supply chain solution that is independent of mainstream mineral producers, as well as producers of conventional battery chemicals.”