Vanadium: Lower prices, ‘stepchange’ tech could fire up VRB sector
Today it’s all about vanadium, folks.
Prices have fallen well off their late 2018 peak, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
A price point below $US10/lb means vanadium redox flow (VRB) batteries – which use a lot of V2O5 — could kick off in a big way.
Advanced WA explorer Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL) and private UK company Ultra Power Systems (UPS) are now teaming up to ostensibly develop the Coates vanadium project near Perth.
UPS’ goal is to produce a vanadium electrolyte and then manufacture VRBs in the “vanadium-rich” jurisdiction of Western Australia.
For AVL shareholders, what’s really interesting about UPS is the innovative third generation processing tech the company is trialling.
UPS snared the “third and final licence” to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL) generation 3 vanadium electrolyte production; the only company outside the US to do so.
This generation 3 electrolyte has higher density than the standard used by most VRFB manufacturers, which means smaller, more powerful batteries that can operate in a wider temperature range.
It also holds the exclusive Australian option to licence the VanadiumCorp Electrochem Processing Technology (VEPT), which enables valuable by-products to be recovered during the vanadium processing route.
UPS will test material from the Coates project using VEPT. If successful, the low grade (under 0.5 per cent V2O5) mineralisation from AVL’s flagship Australian Vanadium project will also be tested.
AVL managing director Vincent Algar says having a deposit so close to Perth will enable the testing of both the VEPT process and production of gen 3 electrolyte at a relatively low cost.
“AVL looks forward to developing the relationship with UPS further as we advance the vanadium industry in Western Australia,” he says.