SYDNEY, April 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Novalith Technologies, creator of a novel lithium extraction process that will unlock vast resources and deliver them without the environmental toll of traditional approaches, has raised AU$23 million in Series A funding. Led by Lowercarbon Capital, the round includes participation from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the Grantham Environmental Trusts' Neglected Climate Opportunities Fund, TDK Ventures and Investible.
The auto industry is in the midst of a once-in-a-century shift, replacing the internal combustion engine with electric alternatives that rely on the same core piece of technology: lithium-ion batteries. To fuel this revolution, the world needs to produce up to 2.7 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2030, a 4-fold increase since last year. Until recently, most of the energy-dense metal that the industry uses today came from brine resources: naturally-occurring salt lakes concentrated in the "Lithium Triangle" countries of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. These projects require large evaporation ponds that are harmful to the environment, hard to get approved, and yield low product purities.
Those challenges have spurred industry interest in hard rock resources, which are plentiful and currently provide ~60% of the world's lithium but, based on current methods, are difficult, expensive, environmentally harmful and can't be brought online fast enough to meet demand. At Novalith Technologies, we have pioneered a novel process that remakes hard-rock lithium extraction and refining into a dramatically cheaper, greener and more scalable process.
Instead of the traditional method that relies on significant amounts of sulfuric acid to extract lithium, a process that leaves behind a plethora of harmful by-products and waste, Novalith uses carbonated water to extract the lithium directly as battery grade lithium carbonate and leaves a by-product of inert, CO2-infused rock.
Novalith's technology cuts process costs, plant costs, and plant footprints by up to 65%, 50%, and 25%, respectively compared to the conventional process. It uses 90% less water than current approaches and promises to supercharge the energy transition by opening mineral resources in new geographies. When paired with renewable energy sources, the technology opens a path to carbon-negative lithium production.
Led by Steven Vassiloudis, a repeat entrepreneur and chemical engineer, Novalith has assembled a team of top scientists, engineers, and fossil fuel refugees working together to speed the arrival of the lithium century. This funding will enable us to scale up and commercialise our patented LiCAL Technology, including a new pilot facility in Sydney, Australia, which will be used to process numerous lithium resources from around the world and produce lithium carbonate for testing by customers.
Since raising our seed funding round in August 2021, Novalith has built out our R&D facility in Sydney, Australia, demonstrating the performance of our patented process across several different local and global ore resources and a path to sustainable and carbon-negative lithium production.
"It's a massive opportunity to be able to disrupt and meaningfully contribute to something as important as electrification & decarbonisation. We are very grateful to have the support of a strong group of mission aligned investors who understand the urgency and significance of what we're aiming to achieve," said Steven Vassiloudis, founder and CEO of Novalith. "Our technology has the potential to significantly decarbonise the lithium supply chain as well as unlock new lithium ore reserves and opportunities, providing low cost and environmentally sustainable lithium to a world that is rapidly racing towards an electric future."
"Novalith halves the cost of extracting lithium from hard rocks with tech that's also cleaner and faster, giving us a shot to keep up with exploding demand without turning the whole planet into an open-pit mine," said Chris Sacca, Managing Partner of Lowercarbon Capital.
CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth said: "Australia ranks amongst the largest lithium producers in the world, and it's clear the world will need more lithium than it has now. Novalith's ambitious technology is changing lithium production to make it greener and more cost effective to power the batteries we need for the storage and electric vehicles that are transforming our energy future."
Managing Partner Virescent Ventures Kristin Vaughan said: "By investing in innovative Australian companies like Novalith, the CEFC is backing the development of a sustainable potential on-shore solution for lithium production and helping to strengthen the sustainability of supply-chain in Australia." Virescent Ventures manages the Novalith investment on behalf of the CEFC.
"Novalith's innovative technology not only allows faster access to Lithium for meeting our rapid electrification ambitions, but it also does so by converting CO2 to valuable battery material, hence drastically reducing the overall CO2 footprint of the process," said Anil Achyuta, TDK Ventures' Managing Director.
Novalith Technologies is a Sydney, Australia based climate technology company that uses carbon dioxide to simplify lithium chemicals production.
We are motivated by our belief that the future of lithium mining and refining will require the elimination of carbon-intensive energy sources, and ideally turn carbon waste into carbon value.
Novalith's LiCAL lithium extraction technology uses significantly less equipment, chemical reagents, water and energy than conventional processing, which reduces capital and production costs. The direct use and sequestration of CO2 in producing lithium chemicals also produces a much smaller emissions footprint than existing and alternative processes.