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Standard Lithium happy with results from pilot plant

Posted on December 19, 2018

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Standard Lithium Ltd. said this week that the company has completed the commissioning process for its prototype crystallization pilot plant.

The plant produced its first quantity of high purity (>99.1%) lithium carbonate.

The company, through its technology partners, is currently designing and fabricating both halves of its full-scale pilot plant for deployment to Union County, Arkansas.

The Lithium Extraction Pilot Plant is being designed and built by Zeton Inc. in Burlington, Ontario, Canada; the Lithium Carbonate Crystallization Pilot Plant is being designed and built by Saltworks Technologies Inc., at its facility in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Both parts of the pilot plant are based on Standard Lithium’s proprietary technology.

The newly-constructed crystallization pilot prototype was operated using a relatively “impure” feed solution similar to, but less pure than that produced by the company’s lithium extraction process (as per ongoing testing at the company’s mini-pilot plant in Ontario).

The feed solution contained approximately 4,500 mg/L lithium; 5,000 mg/L sodium (at least one order of magnitude higher than that produced by the company’s lithium extraction process); over 400 mg/L of other alkali, alkaline earth and transition metal contaminants; and over 900 mg/L of other non-metallic anionic contaminants.

After setting up and completing initial commissioning work for approximately 2 weeks, the prototype pilot circuit was operated, while monitoring crystallization progress using high-speed, multi-image photo-microscopy and artificial intelligence computer image recognition for crystal size and shape.

After rudimentary washing of the resulting crystallised solids, analysis confirmed that the purity of the product exceeded >99.1% lithium carbonate.

The prototype pilot plant is now undergoing routine optimization to adjust several key operating parameters. In addition, the number of crystallization cycles that have been operated will be increased, and additional product washing technology will be introduced to enable further process optimization and improved product purity. The technical team will also be adjusting the composition of the input feed stream so as to optimize how the two parts of Standard Lithium’s proprietary technologies work together.

Dr. Andy Robinson, President and COO of Standard Lithium commented, “We have all been very pleasantly surprised by these highly positive results from our prototype pilot, established so quickly after starting up the equipment. Standard’s technical team and our partners at Saltworks are now going through the rigorous process of optimizing the operation of the equipment and adding additional process cycles and washing technology so that we can improve the purity of the final lithium carbonate product even further.

“They are also gathering key data to allow us to commence the design for the larger scale crystallization pilot plant that will be deployed to our project site in southern Arkansas,” he said.