Altech Chemicals (ASX: ATC) has collared the patent for its high purity alumina (HPA) process which involves developing HPA from kaolin and other aluminous clays.
The Australian Patent Office officially granted Altech the patent, which spans from eights from 24 August 2018 and covers “the production of alumina from all types of aluminous clay including kaolin, using hydrochloric acid”.
“The journey to patent grant was quite arduous,” Altech managing director Iggy Tan said.
“We commenced the process in 2014 and have now received the Certificate of Grant four years later.”
“The patent will help protect the company’s unique HPA production process and the technology that we have developed,” Mr Tan noted.
According to Altech, the patent encompasses its eight-step production method which starts with treating kaolin or other aluminous material to reduce particle size and enhance the alumina content.
The remaining steps involve calcining, leaching with hydrochloric acid, solid liquid separation, crystallising, precipitating, and dissolving before finally roasting and calcining an aluminium chloride hexahydrate to produce alumina.
Mr Tan said over the last 18 months he had read a “number of public announcements” from hopeful HPA producers with HPA flow diagrams that appear to be “blatant copies of Altech’s process”.
“Now that this patent is granted, Altech is in a strong position to defend its intellectual property rights with the assistance of WRAYS, our patent attorney,” Mr Tan cautioned.
HPA is one of the lesser known materials used in the emerging lithium-ion battery sector.
The material is used to coat cathode and anode separator sheets in the battery and its other surging market is LEDs.
Recently, CRU International senior consultant Toby Green told conference delegates that HPA was a “huge growth story”.
Numerous analysts have forecast the HPA market will increase by up to 20% annually over the next few years.
Mr Tan anticipates about 92,000tpa of HPA will be needed by 2025, with the current market consumption sitting at around 30,000tpa.
To meet this demand, Altech has begun construction of a 4,500tpa plant that will produce 99.99% HPA using its now patented process.
By midday, shares in Altech had risen more than 4% to $0.125.