Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT) subsidiary VSPC Ltd has succeeded in creating high-quality cathode material from recycled lithium-ion batteries (LIBs).
Taking lithium phosphate (LP) from spent lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), VSPC created the cathode material, which was then used to create and test lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) batteries.
Using Lithium Australia technology, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) recovered LP with a purity of more than 99.9% from mixed metal dust (MMD) from recycled LIBs.
The MMD was commercially recovered by Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd, in which Lithium Australia holds 18% equity. Based in Melbourne, Envirostream is the only company in Australia capable of sorting, shredding and separating all energy metals, including lithium, from spent LIBs.
Once ANSTO had recovered the LP, it was shipped to VSPC’s pilot plant in Brisbane, Australia. There, VSPC proprietary nanotechnology was used to synthesise LFP cathode material from the LP, with 100% recovery to final product achieved with precise control of composition and phase purity.
Using that LFP cathode material, VSPC created new, 2032 coin-cell LIBs and electrochemically tested them. The performance of those LIBs exceeded VSPC’s internal standards.
Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said this achievement demonstrates the technological fit between Lithium Australia’s recycling process and the VSPC process for producing cathode material for LFP batteries.
“The production of LIBs from recycled battery material represents a genuinely renewable pathway for the battery industry,” Mr Griffin said.
“Recycling of this type meets the ethical, social and governance standards that the community expects. It also strengthens our capacity to deal with climate change by improving resource sustainability and reducing the environmental footprint of portable power.
The entire production cycle (lithium from recycled batteries → LP → LFP cathode material → new LIBs) demonstrates the potential for improved efficiency and reduced manufacturing cost,” Mr Griffin said.
VSPC will now use a blend of newly created LFP material and LFP material synthesised from recycled lithium to make and test cathodes for larger, commercial-format (18650) battery cells.
Mr Griffin said Lithium Australia is currently in discussions with industry players in China and elsewhere to establish a supply chain for LFP cathode material produced from the recycling of spent LIBs.
“Indeed, growth projections for such material are strong, given its suitability for applications such as the replacement of automotive lead-acid batteries and for large- scale energy storage, including the provision of back-up power supplies for 5G communications stations,” Mr Griffin said.