Recycling success could put WA on the battery production map
Recycling of battery materials is all the rage with Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) successfully converting mine waste and spent lithium-ion batteries into high-performance lithium-ion battery cathodes.
The cathodes were produced using lithium phosphate recovered from mixed metal dust (MMD) using the company’s proprietary processing technology.
Likewise, the MMD was derived from the recycling of spent batteries by its subsidiary Envirostream Australia.
Testing of the cells using the lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) material achieved capacities of up to 161 milliampere hours per gram mAh/g at a 0.1C discharge rate, equal to or exceeding that of the best LFP cathode materials currently on the market.
Specific energy capacity for cathode material is determined in coin cells at a 0.1C discharge rate, meaning the battery will be discharged in 10 hours.
Typically, manufacturers using advanced LFP cathode materials to create battery cells aim to achieve a capacity exceeding 158 mAh/g.
Lithium Australia says the result confirms the flexibility of its process for creating high-quality cathode material from lithium phosphate recovered from mineral waste and recycled batteries.
“The availability of low-cost reagents for battery production varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction,” managing director Adrian Griffin said.
“Our work may well result in Australia, and Western Australia in particular, becoming a more competitive environment for battery production.”
This comes as the Western Australian government set aside $13.2m in project funding to attract a global cathode materials manufacturer to establish a production facility in the state as part of its recovery plan.
Meanwhile, EcoGraf (ASX:EGR) has proven it is possible to recover all of the carbon in battery anode scrap generated through the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries and up to 99.6 per cent of carbon from a range of ‘black mass’ material from recycled batteries.
Black mass is the residual graphite material remaining after hydrometallurgical processes have recovered the high value cathode metals from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries and is typically relegated to landfill.
The result demonstrates the potential to re-use recovered high purity battery anode material in the higher priced industrial natural and synthetic graphite markets.
Additional work is underway with customers to further refine the process.
On the lithium development front, Jindalee Resources’ (ASX:JRL) has increased lithium grades while removing carbonate and other acid consuming materials from ore sourced from its McDermitt project in the US through the use of attrition scrubbing.
In June, metallurgical test work successfully extracted 97.9 per cent of the lithium from McDermitt ore through the use of leaching using hydrochloric acid.
The ability to reduce the amount of acid consumed while processing McDermitt ore is expected to improve project economics.
Jindalee is now reviewing the results of this work before proposing further work.