Embargo til April 17
TDK Ventures has invested in lithium-extraction startup Novalith, which has developed a novel system for extracting battery-grade lithium from resource deposits.
Novalith points out multiple drawbacks of current lithium production methods. Traditional ore mining involves the arduous process of finding lithium-containing ore, followed by major investments in infrastructure and time to remove the resources from the ground. Brine extraction requires massive volumes of water and chemicals to recover lithium dissolved in pooled liquid deposits underground or in tailing ponds.
“Both approaches are incredibly slow and filled with upfront infrastructure costs,” says Novalith. “Both [also] have carbon-heavy output from machinery costs in addition to other toxic products (chemicals used in brine solution), which offset the environmental responsibility that lithium-ion batteries are intended to foster in the first place.”
Novalith is working to commercialize its patented LiCAL technology for lithium extraction and refining from lithium ores such as spodumene and clays. The technology uses CO2 instead of strong acids or bases to extract and directly convert the ore to battery-grade lithium. The company says this significantly reduces the cost and the environmental footprint of the extraction process.
“To pave the way for a truly sustainable future in lithium-ion batteries and their uses, we have to decarbonize production,” said Steven Vassiloudis, Novalith CEO. “We want to take this one step further and turn carbon waste into carbon value. We’re using CO2 and sequestering it as part of our process. Doing so, we can minimize across the board—less infrastructure, fewer chemicals, no toxic by-production, less water, and less cost.”
“Without the decarbonization of material extraction, in particular lithium, the life cycle of lithium batteries cannot be truly sustainable,” said Nicolas Sauvage, President of TDK Ventures. “Novalith has not only provided a solution to extract lithium faster, but also [does so] by converting CO2 into a battery-grade product, which drastically reduces the overall CO2 footprint of lithium production.”
Source: TDK Ventures