TopFibre Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chase, entered into an agreement with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2015 to conduct research at their School of Materials Science and Engineering.
The research is looking into developing high-value products from the topaz found at Torrington.
Topaz is an aluminosilicate and the specific goal was to explore the potential for developing fibres of mullite from the topaz.
Finalising MLA and EIS
Chase is in the process of finalising the mining lease application (MLA) and environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Torrington Project.
The Background Paper for the Torrington Project was lodged with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment on 25 September 2019, a precursor to finalising the MLA and EIS.
The latest period of research reported covers the period from 17 August 2019 to 15 October 2019.
The research is highly technical and recently has focused on three topics - fabrication of α-alumina templates, growth of thick mullite fibres, and fabrication and infiltration of mullite preforms.
All topics and potential patenting will be further investigated in the December quarter.
Research update summary
The research results summary quoted from the recent quarterly report is below.
Topic 1 – The α-Al2O3 platelets were thickened successfully. However, the stacked arrays did not cover the entire surface, leaving the thinner α-Al2O3 platelets exposed. A third layer of even thicker α-Al2O3 platelets ~150% thicker than the first layer, also formed, probably as a secondary precipitation event.
Topic 2 – While the potential to thicken the fibres to diameters greater than the limitation of 3 μm for respirable fibres was confirmed, a wide range of diameters still is being produced. The successful thickening of the α-Al2O3 platelets appears to be a key aspect of this ability, although the presence of the layer of thinner α-Al2O3 platelets as above probably contributed to the range of sizes produced.
Topic 3 – Although its porosity was increased successfully large-scale wetting and penetration of the mullite fibres was not observed. However, isolated regions of wetting and penetration by Al82Si18 were observed, demonstrating that, in agreement with published reports, wetting and penetration are possible.