Value-adding to Australia’s lithium mining sector: cutting-edge manufacturing to convert aluminosilicate residue into zeolites

Neometals
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Industry partner

Neometals Limited (Neometals)

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Research organisation

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

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Manufacturing investment

$2.570,124 million
($449,358 IMCRC)
for 2020–2022

Pilot plant to accelerate the development of zeolite production process

Challenge

With the global demand for electronic devices and renewable energy rising, Lithium has become a well sought-after resource. Perth based project development company, Neometals has developed a patent pending process that converts lithium refinery waste into an advanced material know as synthetic zeolites.

Proposed Solution

In partnership with Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Neometals aims to establish a cost-effective and sustainable manufacturing process that converts aluminosilicate residue – a waste material produced when extracting lithium from ore concentrates – into high-value synthetic zeolites.

Based on the proof-of-concept zeolite synthesis jointly developed by QUT and Neometals, the research team will set up a digital pilot manufacturing plant that advances and semi-automates the zeolite production process. Data analytics and inline monitoring technology that track and assess the processing routes will be incorporated to manage and optimise the overall performance of the plant. Through machine learning, the gathered information will be used to set up operational control parameters to ensure that customer product requirements are met. At the same time, the researchers will analyse the data to explore innovative business models that add up-stream value to the lithium value chain and allow Neometals to compete on a global scale.

The project provides Neometals with a unique opportunity to introduce a circular economy approach to lithium production by reducing disposal of residue into landfill and creating a new, high-valued material.