Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) (OTCMKTS:LMMFF) (FRA:3MW) has received Notice of Allowance from the US Patent and Trademark Office for its SiLeach® patent application US 16/076,643, which was filed in August 2018.
SiLeach® offers significant advantages over competing processes, particularly with the recovery of lithium from low-tenor solutions as it minimises the capital cost of evaporators and the high energy cost associated with evaporation.
Direct precipitation of lithium as a phosphate, and subsequent refining, provides the potential for direct feed into the production of lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) cathode powders.
Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said: "Granting of the US SiLeach® patent at a time of increased interest in the extraction of lithium from clays in North America is very timely … even more so as LFP is the most rapidly expanding sector of the LIB [lithium-ion battery] industry.
“Both the lithium and phosphorus required to manufacture LFP are produced by SiLeach® as a single lithium chemical.
“Anyone with a lithium mica or clay deposit is welcome to get in touch and see what we can offer, as are cathode producers interested in discussing a more direct route to LFP synthesis using VSPC cathode powder production technology."
Demand for LFP to grow
The production of tri-lithium phosphate is a common thread in the company’s proprietary extraction technologies.
This chemical is a key ingredient in the production of LFP, the material that will power Tesla 3 electric vehicles not only in China but elsewhere around the globe.
LFP provides a safer alternative to more conventional LIB chemistries and does so at a much-reduced production cost.
Electric vehicle (EV) makers in China are reportedly very confident that demand for LFP will continue to grow.
Leading Chinese LFP LIB producer BYD Auto Co. Ltd, plans to upgrade its LFP production capacity eight-fold this year, with others to follow.
The Tesla Model 3 produced in China uses LFP batteries, with that variant now introduced into 10 European jurisdictions.
Energy-storage producers are also capitalising on LFP’s superior safety and longevity.
Also, shifts in legislation in North America, Europe and China will mean that EVs with nickel-based battery packs require fire protection and this is likely to increase pressure for a shift to LFP, considered the ‘safe’ LIB.
Patent application PCT/AU2019/050541 detailing the second-generation SiLeach® continues to be assessed in multiple jurisdictions, including the US.
Patent application PCT/AU2019/050540 details Lithium Australia’s process for recovering lithium phosphate from lithium-bearing solutions such as brine or pregnant process liquor.
The application and patent, if granted, protects the company’s phosphate process route for the production of lithium chemicals suitable for use in LFP cathode powders.
Recently, Lithium Australia received a Certificate of Grant from IP Australia for its revolutionary first-generation LieNA® technology patent application.
Acceptance of this patent application within other international judications is also being sought.
The company’s patent application for its second-generation LieNA® technology within the same jurisdictions also continues to progress.