Finnish company Sensmet said it launched a new technology that dramatically improves the production efficiency of lithium.
Its automated online measurement technology enables the optimal dosing of chemicals during lithium production through multi-metal analysis of aqueous samples.
It said its Micro-Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy µDOES can measure multiple metals, such as any battery metal and their impurities, in real-time. This saves labour-intensive batch sampling and laboratory analysis to control their processes.
In addition to lithium manufacture, the technology is also suited to the black mass recycling of battery metals. Strict online monitoring and control is implemented to reduce impurity levels and prevent retreatment.
Sensmet said Keliber, a Finnish mining and battery chemical company, ran a pilot-scale test programme in 2022. This was to evaluate the µDOES analyser in the continuous optimisation of precipitation chemical dosing during lithium production.
Battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate was produced from spodumene concentrate treated by high-temperature conversion in a rotary kiln. A hydrometallurgical technology was developed to produce the battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate by soda pressure leaching. The pilot ran continuously at the demonstration plant for 400 hours and achieved a total lithium recovery rate of more than 88%, it said.
The results showed an “excellent degree of correlation” between the methods, it said.
Keliber’s Sami Heikkinen, Site Manager, Lithium Hydroxide Refinery, said: “Chemical dosing based on reliable real-time data brings stability to the process, which is very important because it avoids drift and optimises both yield and quality while minimising cost.”