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ChemX Materials micro-plant trial nails 4N alumina purity

Updated: Mar 27

ChemX Materials’ optimisation of a small module of its HiPurA micro-plant. Credit: File

ChemX Materials has nailed the vital “4N” (99.99 per cent) product purity in alumina from its trial micro-plant in Perth and is refocusing on the commissioning of its proposed pilot plant in next year’s first quarter.

The company says independent testing confirmed 4N in the analysis of a suite of 66 elements in alumina, with total impurity levels of 61 parts per million, 66ppm and 99ppm and a best result of just 39ppm total impurities (99.996 per cent purity) – which is close to 5N.

Test samples for analysis of the final high-purity alumina (HPA) product comprised post-calcining material taken from several areas within the crucible volume to provide a representative composite sample mass of about 50 grams. The principal analytical methods employed included inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and microwave digest methods.

ChemX has now achieved a HPA level of purity that is beyond 4N (99.99 per cent) and have notably recorded a single result that has outperformed our previous best (reduction of impurities) by over 50 per cent, across 66 elements. These significant results demonstrate the unique capability of the HiPurA process and the rigour that ChemX has undertaken to scale up from Laboratory to Micro Plant scale. Following construction, commissioning and optimisation of the HPA Pilot Plant, the stage will be firmly set for HPA customer qualification. ChemX Materials chief executive officer Peter Lee

The analytical work was undertaken by Intertek Perth and LabWest Perth. Both are National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA)-accredited independent external commercial laboratories and ChemX believes their work provides sufficient confidence in the reported results. The company says the results reflect its continuous process aimed at selectively removing key impurities from its product and to meet increasingly demanding technical standards.

Management says its recent investment in high-precision analytical equipment will assist the quality improvement process and help reduce reliance on external laboratories, which will reduce assay turnaround times and support the commissioning of the full-scale pilot plant planned for next year.

ChemX is focused on providing high-purity critical materials for the battery industry and its “HiPurA” process is 100 per cent-owned and trademarked. The process is a disruptive flowsheet, which converts aluminous chemical feedstocks through selective refining to HPA. It was developed in-house and can produce HPA and high-purity aluminium cathode precursor salts for lithium-ion batteries.

Initial testwork shows the process is low cost and low in energy consumption, compared to alternative methods. The company says its key competitive advantage is that the process is modular, scalable and is not tied to mine production, as the feedstock is a widely-available chemical.

ChemX says its goal is to achieve the delivery of 4N-grade and potentially 5N (99.999 per cent) HPA products for the electric vehicle (EV) battery separator, synthetic sapphire, LED, semi-conductor and optical lens markets.

The company says the trial-level micro-plant has achieved its purpose and it will now refocus on the construction and commissioning of its HPA pilot plant. The intended purpose of the plant is to match, or improve on the HPA purity levels achieved by its micro-plant.

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