Lithium Australia granted US patent for its revolutionary lithium extraction technology

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Image Credit: Lithium Australia

Australian lithium processing and extracting company, Lithium Australia, has been granted a US patent for its SiLeach lithium extraction technology, which enables low-energy recovery from lithium and other valuable by-products from mica.

The company has received an issue notification from the US Patent and Trademark Office confirming the grant of a patent for its application, filed August 2018.

Lithium Australia, which lodged patent applications for most of the technology emanating from its R&D programmes, has also received a notice of acceptance from IP Australia for the same application, with a grant of patent expected at the end of April 2021.

The US patent now provides 17 years of legal protection in the country, whereas the Australian patent – once granted – will provide SiLeach with 20 years of legal protection in Australia.

SiLeach is a fluorine-assisted, acid-leach recovery process designed specifically for lithium mica minerals.

It offers significant advantages over competing processes, particularly with respect to the recovery of lithium from low-tenor solutions, which minimises the capital cost of evaporators and the high energy costs associated with evaporation.

The SiLeach process can produce a range of lithium chemicals, including lithium hydroxide, lithium carbonate and lithium phosphate.

Significantly, the use of lithium phosphate is the shortest route to the production of lithium ferrophosphate (LFP) batteries, which is also advantageous from an environmental, social and governance perspective

The Company, through its 100%-owned subsidiary VSPC Ltd, has produced LFP from lithium phosphate generated via the SiLeach process. The LFP was subsequently used to manufacture battery cells for testing, with positive results.

“Granting of the US SiLeach patent is timely, given increased interest in the extraction of lithium from clays in north America … and even more so now that LFP is the most rapidly expanding sector of the lithium-ion battery industry,” said Lithium Australia Managing Director Adrian Griffin.

“The lithium and phosphorus required to manufacture LFP are both produced by SiLeach as a single lithium chemical.

“We invite anyone with a lithium mica or clay deposit to reach out and see what we can offer; also, cathode producers interested in discussing a more direct route to LFP synthesis using our proprietary VSPC cathode powder production technology.”