Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT), has received a clear international preliminary report on the patentability of processes described in its patent application for the recovery of lithium phosphate (LP) from lithium-bearing solutions.
The International Examiner has indicated that all the claims in the application are novel, involve an inventive step and are applicable to industry.
Production of LP is a unit process common to LIT's SiLeach® and LieNA® technologies, which both reduce the number of steps required to produce battery cathode powders.
Cathode powder technologies
LIT, together with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), is continuing R&D on its revolutionary lithium-recovery technologies for the production of critical battery chemicals.
These technologies aim to deliver efficient, sustainable processing and production options for the lithium-ion battery (‘LIB’) industry while reducing its environmental footprint for the benefit of the planet.
SiLeach recovers LP and lithium sulphate from lithium-bearing silicates following the application of a fluoride-accelerated acid leach primarily applicable to lithium micas, and LieNA, an alkaline pressure conversion process, extracts lithium as LP from silicates without the need for roasting.
The application and patent, if granted, protects the company’s LP process route and also allows the company’s application to progress to national phase assessment in Australia and international jurisdictions.
“Most efficient means”
Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said: "Lithium Australia’s LP extraction and refining process not only gives its proprietary processes for the recovery of lithium from spodumene and mica a further competitive advantage but also appears to be the most efficient means of recovering lithium from spent batteries.
“And the LP itself is the ultimate feed for the production of LFP cathode materials.”
The LP recovery process has been used to retrieve lithium from mixed metal dust and electrolyte materials recovered from spent lithium-ion batteries by Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd, a 90%-owned subsidiary of Lithium Australia.
Lithium Australia intends to also apply this lithium phosphate precipitation and refining process to the recovery of lithium from brines.
Patent applications progress
In addition, Lithium Australia recently announced receipt of a ’Certificate of Grant’ from IP Australia for its first-generation LieNA technology patent application.
Achieving acceptance of this patent application within other international judications is also in progress.
Meanwhile, the company’s patent application for its second-generation LieNA technology within the same jurisdictions continues to progress.
Shares have been as much as 9% higher this morning to 6.5 cents.