A New South Wales start-up seeking to pilot its low-carbon lithium processing technology – and to establish an Australian foothold in the massive global battery supply chain – has closed a $2.5 million seed funding round, with $1.5 million invested by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
Novalith’s Australian made LiCALTM technology is based on the intellectual property of chemical engineer Professor Brian Haynes, Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, and aims to transform the energy and emissions-intesnive lithium production process.
It does this by consuming carbon dioxide as a reagent, which works not only to reduce emissions, but to eliminate the need for conventionally consumed chemicals and to minimise the waste footprint of lithium processing.
Novalith’s technology also removes the need for extensive offshore processing, enabling Australian-produced lithium ore to be processed closer to mine sites, further strengthening the sustainability of the supply chain.
The money raised in the seed funding round will help establish a pilot plant in Sydney, as Novalith moves toward the development of a commercial demonstration plant.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the technology had the potential to change the nature of lithium production, while also opening the door for Australia to become a major processing, manufacturing and trading hub for lithium resources, rather than just an exporter of raw materials.
“Large batteries will play a transformative role in our energy future, enabling Australia to maximise the benefits of our abundant renewable resources and accelerate our transition to a low emissions economy,” Learmonth said.
“As the largest lithium miner in the world, it is vital that we secure critical mineral supply chains to develop sovereign capability for the industry and to be more competitive globally. By investing in this ground-breaking Novalith technology, we are backing the development of a competitive sustainable business of the future.”
Novalith Founder and CEO Steven Vassiloudis said the company aimed to establish itself as an important part of sustainable battery supply chain and to help Australian resource owners process lithium onshore, localising critical battery materials supply chains.
“The future of lithium mining and refining will require the elimination of carbon-intensive energy sources, and ideally turn carbon waste into carbon value,” Vassiloudis said.
“Novalith’s technology uses significantly less equipment, chemical reagents, water and energy than conventional processing, which reduces capital and production costs. The direct use and sequestration of CO2 in producing lithium chemicals also produces a much smaller emissions footprint.”
The CEFC investment, made through the federal government’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund, was joined by backing from the US-based venture capital investor, The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust’s Neglected Climate Opportunities LLC.