Australia patent applications for lithium phosphate production

The International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has published two Lithium Australia patent applications for the recovery of lithium phosphate from lithium-bearing silicates and solutions.

The publication is another step towards obtaining a patent grant, which provides legal protection in international jurisdictions.

Production of lithium phosphate is a unit process common to Lithium Australias SiLeach and LieNA technologies which potentially reduce the number of processing steps to produce battery cathode powders

Lithium Australia Managing Director Adrian Griffin said the Company has succeeded in developing technologies that improve the sustainability of, and reduce the environmental impacts associated with, the manufacture, use and disposal of lithium-ion batteries.

Importantly, these technologies can facilitate vertical integration within the battery supply chain, potentially reducing the number of process steps involved and lowering costs for consumers. The ability to integrate metal recovery from lithium-ion batteries and regenerate cathode materials represents a major advance for the battery industry as a whole, added Mr Griffin.

Lithium Australia has developed innovative processes for the recovery of lithium chemicals from lithium-bearing silicates and micas. In particular, these efforts have resulted in unit process enhancements that optimise the recovery of lithium from low-tenor solutions, while managing water-balance challenges, to produce lithium phosphate of a high quality. The unit processes involved are the subject of the above-mentioned patent applications.

Lithium phosphate produced by way of the Companys proprietary processes meets the specification necessary for its use as feedstock in the production of lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP), a cathode precursor material in the manufacture of batteries for energy-storage system and transport applications.

Patent application PCT/AU2019/050540 details Lithium Australias process for recovering lithium phosphate and lithium sulphate from a lithium-bearing solution such as brine or pregnant process liquor. Patent protection was sought due to an innovation developed during test-work prior to completion of the SiLeach pilot programme in August/September 2018. This unit process also has direct application to LieNA.

Patent application PCT/AU2019/050541, which incorporates developments from PCT/AU2019/050540 above, is an enhancement of Lithium Australias SiLeach technology, a process for recovering lithium phosphate and lithium sulphate from lithium-bearing silicates following the application of a fluoride-accelerated acid leach.

Patents granted by the International Bureau of WIPO provide IP protection in jurisdictions governed by WIPO. Publication of the Companys patent applications is a significant fourth step in the seven-step process for the granting of patents within these jurisdictions, which can take several years to achieve.