Zeolites are highly valued for use as molecular sieves, catalysts, or ultrafine filters and Zeotech has now successfully completed its first continuous closed loop circuit to produce them from kaolin feedstock, using their proprietary flowsheet

This is a significant step in the company’s dual-feed pilot program as a successful bench-scale continuous closed-loop circuit represents the first time Zeotech has produced high value synthetic zeolites continuously using its patent-pending technology and this can now be scaled up.

It allows Zeotech (ASX:ZEO) and the team at The University of Queensland to start pilot plant set-up and construction during the first quarter of 2022.

University of Queensland Associate Professor James Vaughan noted that with the continuous closed-loop circuit successfully producing zeolite from kaolin, they were confident of achieving a continuous circuit with lithium process by-product in the near term and supporting Zeotech in the construction and commissioning of the pilot plant.

“The progress achieved to date confirms that our proprietary flowsheet is able to deliver a continuous circuit utilising kaolin and we are close to achieving the same for leached spodumene residue,” Zeotech’s head of projects Dr John Vogrin added.

“Planning and procurement for both plant and equipment is underway, and we are on track to start construction of the pilot line in the coming months ahead of a busy and exciting 2022.”

Zeolites are manufactured aluminosilicate minerals with a sponge-like structure, making them molecular sieves that are the ideal environmental management solution for holding heavy metals, ammonia, low level radioactive elements, toxins, petrochemicals, and gases.


Zeolite circuit

The successful continuous closed loop circuit is the culmination of over a hundred optimisation batch tests and in excess of  30 continuous tests completed on individual process steps, involving leaching, filtration/decanting, and precipitation since mid-February this year.

In May, Zeotech made the decision to expand the single kaolin feed pilot to include lithium process by-product as an additional feedstock and bench-scale optimisation test work began in June.

On the lithium by-product processing front, UQ researchers have completed over 70 optimisation batch tests across a range of leaching and precipitation configurations since June.

Continuous tank reactor precipitation work has been successfully completed and the team is currently undertaking continuous leaching runs.

While including two separate lithium process by-product samples to the pilot program has increased the variables in validating Zeotech’s proprietary flowsheet process steps, both the company and UQ expect to achieve a continuous closed-loop circuit in the near term.

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.