Lithium Australia’s (ASX: LIT) subsidiary VSPC (formerly the Very Small Particle Company) has recommissioned its Brisbane-based pilot plant and produced its first proprietary lithium-iron-phosphate commercial samples for testing in lithium-ion battery cathodes.
During initial test work late last year, VSPC’s lithium-iron-phosphate material “exceeded” industry standards.
Additionally, Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin says the VSPC technology is less energy intensive compared to current cathode production processes and could, therefore, potentially attract lower production costs.
“VSPC gives Lithium Australia the opportunity to manufacture the world’s most advanced cathode materials – at the high-margin end of the battery metals market,” Mr Griffin said.
The quality and consistency of the lithium-iron-phosphate materials is currently undergoing evaluation, with the pilot laboratory also capable of assembling and testing lithium-ion coin and pouch cells.
Lithium-ion battery recycling
Currently, there is no commercial process for recycling lithium-ion batteries, which typically have a life span ranging from two years to around 10, depending on the frequency of the charge cycles, the battery’s formulation, environment and application.
Lithium Australia aims to close the loop by creating sustainable lithium production using expired batteries as a feed source as well as other “non-traditional” materials with low exposure to mining costs.
According to Mr Griffin, VSPC can generate its lithium-ion cathode material using waste lithium-ion batteries as a feed source.
“Battery recycling not only supports sustainability but may also, ultimately, prove the cheapest source of those energy metals materials in years to come,” he said.
“The ability to produce cathode powders from these materials, while also controlling particle size, is clearly advantageous.”
Mr Griffin added the process was part of the company’s strategy to develop an operation underpinned by sustainable and ethical supply.
Lithium Australia is developing a vertically integrated business that leverages its various technologies to produce lithium chemicals on a commercial scale with competitive operating costs in the “lowest quartile”.
“We anticipate immense pressure on the supply of energy metals such as lithium and cobalt in the near future,” Mr Griffin said.
In early morning trade, Lithium Australia’s share price was steady at A$0.10.