Lithium Australia’s wholly owned subsidiary, VSPC has successfully produced Li-ion battery (LIB), cathode material, and Li-ion batteries from tri-lithium phosphate produced directly from mine waste using the SiLeach® process.
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.
This groundbreaking 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 LIBs.
The cathode material was characterised by XRD and SEM, and determined to be of similar quality to VSPC standard LFP material.
LIBs (2032 coin cells) were subsequently produced and tested under a range of charge and discharge conditions, with the cells achieving 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. Additionally, 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 eliminate the requirement to produce high-purity lithium hydroxide or carbonate and to reduce the requirement for evaporation ponds.
Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin said the remarkable outcome was a credit to Lithium Australia’s 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,” Mr Griffin said.
“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.”