Proprietary Processes

Nemaska Lithium has developed proprietary processes that use electrolysis to produce high-purity lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate for the lithium battery market. The technology virtually eliminates costly soda ash from the process. Soda ash is used as a reagent in traditional methods to produce carbonate. The price of soda ash fluctuates considerably and the increase in the price of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide in recent years has been a direct result of increasing prices of soda ash. By using electrolysis, Nemaska Lithium’s main input cost is electricity, which in Quebec is highly predictable and cost effective.

How does it work?

The company will take a 6% spodumene concentrate (produced from a hard rock lithium mine) and process it into a lithium sulfate. After several stages of impurity removals the lithium sulfate solution is transformed through electrolysis into a high-purity liquid lithium hydroxide. The lithium hydroxide is then transformed into a lithium monohydrate (solid) or bubbled with carbon dioxide and changed into lithium carbonate. Since no impurities such as soda ash are used in Nemaska Lithium’s process the company can produced very high purity lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate at a very competitive price. Nemaska Lithium has signed an off-take agreement (for production from the Phase 1 Plant) with Johnson Matthey Battery Materials Ltd., who uses lithium hydroxide to produce lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathodes. New lithium battery technologies are moving towards lithium hydroxide as the chemical of choice due to better power density, longer life cycle and enhanced safety features. Companies such as Tesla and Panasonic and others are using lithium battery chemistries based on lithium hydroxide.