Nanotechnology company VSPC, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT), has announced significant cost savings resulting from an optimised process for the production of lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) cathode material.
The company today announced the completion of stage two of a project being conducted at its Brisbane research and development facility aimed at developing low-cost raw material options for its proprietary process.
Outcomes included a “significant” reduction in the consumption of chemical reagents, resulting in a chemical cost saving of up to 20%.
In addition, the manufacture of iron reagents from base raw materials further trimmed chemical costs by 5-10%.
Importantly, VSPC confirmed the cost reduction did not impede on other key features, announcing the advanced LFP cathode material that was produced demonstrated “excellent” electrochemical performance and “excellent” physical properties for electrode coating.
The company said these excellent electrochemical results confirm the “flexibility of the process for a range of lithium feed materials”.
After securing up to $185,000 in co-funding under a grant from the Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) in January, VSPC started a project to develop low-cost raw material options for its proprietary process for cathode material synthesis.
The project aimed to demonstrate the technical feasibility of producing advanced LFP cathode material by a process that requires less chemical reagents and uses lower cost raw materials including iron sulphate, iron oxides and lithium phosphate (LP).
These raw materials would be sourced via several methods including Lithium Australia’s patented SiLeach and LieNA processes, as well as from mixed metal dust derived from spent lithium-ion batteries by the company’s Melbourne battery recycling entity, Envirostream.
Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said it is “imperative” that VSPC maximises its competitive advantages in terms of both reagent inputs and physical manufacturing costs.
“Using easily available and lower-cost base reagents in the manufacture of LFP can have a profound impact on the price of production,” he said.
“The AMGC grant has been the catalyst in evaluating lower-cost options that may not otherwise have been considered.”
“In many cases, such options are location-specific, so the results of this study may well lead to Australia being seen as a more competitive place for the production of LFP batteries,” Mr Griffin added.
Stage three plan
In today’s announcement, Lithium Australia reported the commencement of the third stage of the project.
This will involve further evaluation of iron oxide raw materials and LFP synthesis at laboratory scale and laboratory synthesis of LFP using LP processed from Envirostream mixed metal dust.
Stage three will also include preparations for future work at a pilot plant scale.