Zeotech pilot achieves continuous production of valuable zeolites using lithium process by-product
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Zeotech’s pilot program has achieved a continuous closed-loop circuit, successfully producing pure Linde Type A manufactured zeolite using leached spodumene, a by-product of the battery-grade lithium production process.
While the circuit had previously produced zeolite using kaolin feedstock, its ability to do the same using leached spodumene validates the company’s proprietary flowsheet while opening up the available feedstock options, potentially offering lithium refiners a value-add circular solution for managing their process tailings.
Zeotech (ASX:ZEO) adds that it can now start project planning with The University of Queensland (UQ) and industry partner Covalent Lithium for The Trailblazer University Program.
“Our focus during 2022 has been on leached spodumene and we are extremely pleased with the progress and results achieved, especially having successfully demonstrated the closed-loop circuit with continuously fed reactors, resulting in process performance consistent with batch reactor studies,” UQ School of Chemical Engineering associate professor James Vaughan said.
“The process validation accelerates planning for our exciting Trailblazer project, aimed at developing a large-scale demonstration plant, and offers confidence on the journey to commercialisation for Zeotech’s proprietary mineral processing technology to deliver an innovative cleantech solution to the lithium refinery industry.”
Zeotech head of projects Dr John Vogrin added, that the technology has exciting potential to become a circular economy enabler in the lithium refinery value-chain.
“The pilot program has confirmed our proprietary flowsheet is capable of delivering a continuous circuit utilising lithium process by-product to produce pure Type A zeolite, rewarding the team for their dedication and commitment throughout the first half of 2022,” he added.
Manufactured zeolites have a sponge-like structure, that make them useful as catalysts or ultrafine filters. They are commonly known as molecular sieves, that are an ideal environmental management solution for holding heavy metals, ammonia, low level radioactive elements, toxins, petrochemicals, and gases.
Recent testwork by Griffith University has also noted seven additional ways in which zeolites could mitigate carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
Since receiving leached spodumene samples in December 2021, UQ researchers have completed over 80 optimisation batch tests and 25 continuous tests completed on individual process steps, involving leaching, filtration, and precipitation.
This pilot program produced over 3kg of pure Linde Type A manufactured zeolite product and this validation supports UQ and Zeotech’s Trailblazer win.
The Trailblazer grant project will accelerate the commercialisation of Zeotech’s proprietary cleantech innovation for lithium process by-product in collaboration with project partners UQ and Covalent Lithium.
The Trailblazer provides funding from the Federal Government to boost prioritised research and development and drive commercialisation outcomes.
Focus on the company’s dual-feed pilot program will remain on lithium process by-product until the end of June 2022, in conjunction with commencement of Trailblazer project planning.
Zeotech’s pilot team’s attention will then return to kaolin feedstock in early July 2022.
This article was developed in collaboration with Zeotech, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.