The batteries incorporated three common cathode chemistry types consisting of: lithium manganese spinel (LiMn2O4), olivine (LiFePO4), and lithium nickel manganese composite oxide (LiMn2O3.LiNi0.5Mn0.5O2). Each cell was duplicated to incorporate lithium carbonate obtained from an industry standard Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC ("Sigma-Aldrich") product and compared under the same conditions with Western Lithium product. The initial test results demonstrate superior performance by Western Lithium’s product for olivine chemistry, and similar or slightly better performance for the other two cathode chemistries when compared against the Sigma-Aldrich standard. As a general conclusion, the testing completed so far indicates that Western Lithium can produce high purity and high quality lithium product for use in multiple types of lithium ion battery chemistries.
"We have always believed that our Nevada deposit could produce a high quality and consistent source of lithium carbonate for what we expect will be increasing specifications required by high performance lithium ion batteries," said Jay Chmelauskas, President of Western Lithium. "The initial work at Argonne is supporting our view that we will be able to sell an acceptable product to the lithium battery market."
The Company has also been advancing a potential opportunity to sell its Hectorite clay into the growing oil and gas drilling fluids market. Further clay testing and economic studies are currently being undertaken, and a decision is expected whether to advance the clay business in the second quarter of 2012.
The Company recently completed a NI 43-101 pre-feasibility study that was filed on January 27, 2012. Over the past several months Western Lithium has been active to complete a comprehensive Plan of Operations to submit to the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada to initiate its Environmental Impact Assessment study. The Company continues to seek a strategic partner in order to advance definitive feasibility studies and a planned demonstration plant. It is envisioned that further engineering and testing will be required in order to support the permitting process. With a current treasury of approximately $6 million and based on the current financial market conditions, the Company may begin to modify activities until financial market conditions improve and there is greater market demand for new sources of lithium supported by the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles.
The following charts graphically demonstrate the comparison of Western Lithium’s product against a Sigma-Aldrich standard lithium carbonate using multiple cathode chemistries that did not have a carbon coating. Processing and testing conditions were kept the same for samples derived from the Western Lithium and the Sigma-Aldrich lithium carbonate.
Comparing the performance of the Olivine chemistry, it is evident that the capacity of the lithium carbonate prepared with Western Lithium’s product demonstrated superior electrochemical performance against the Sigma-Aldrich sample. This may be due to better reaction or better mixing with the other precursor materials leading to a more optimal particle size. The results of the lithium manganese spinel demonstrated slightly better coulombic efficiencies (less capacity loss between charge and discharge) and cycling retention (less capacity loss during cycling). There were no discernible performance differences when comparisons were made using high capacity lithium nickel manganese layered oxide chemistry. The overall conclusion from these initial test results, is that Western Lithium expects at least similar performance from its Kings Valley, Nevada derived lithium carbonate as compared to industry standards.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
Western Lithium is developing the Kings Valley, Nevada lithium deposit into a strategic, scalable and reliable sources of high quality lithium carbonate. The Company is positioning itself as a major U.S.-based supplier to support the rising global demand for lithium carbonate that is expected from the increased use of hybrid/electric vehicles.