PACIFIC METALS CO., LTD. (“PAMCO”), in collaboration with Emulsion Flow Technologies Ltd. (“EFT”), has developed a process for manufacturing raw materials of lithium-ion battery (“LIB”) cathodes utilizing emulsion-flow technology. Regarding the solvent extraction process, which is part of the developed manufacturing process, PAMCO has also developed a practical, cost-effective emulsion-flow solvent extraction process applicable to commercial production.
The rapid diffusion of electric vehicles is expected to pave the way for the achievement of carbon neutrality. In connection with this trend, securing a stable supply of the critical metals necessary for LIB has become a challenge. In this context, PAMCO has been developing a manufacturing process utilizing hydrometallurgical technology in order to create a business for manufacturing and sales of raw materials for LIB. In this initiative, having focused on emulsion-flow technology to reduce the cost of the solvent extraction process, PAMCO has been working with EFT to develop a manufacturing process that utilizes the technology.
EFT is a start-up established on April 5, 2021, to develop business utilizing emulsion-flow technology, which is a solvent extraction technology developed by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. Emulsion-flow technology is an innovative technology enabling the separation of high-purity elements at lower cost and higher efficiency than is attainable with conventional solvent extraction technology and is expected to contribute to resolving social issues around critical metals. Aiming to promote emulsion-flow technology, EFT proposes process solutions based on emulsion-flow to customers engaged in critical-metal recycling, smelting, chemical processing, biotechnology, and other operations in order to resolve their issues related to processes such as separation and refinement, recovery of valuable elements, and organic synthesis. In addition, EFT is developing a business offering a comprehensive range of services, encompassing design, manufacturing, installation, technical licensing, and operational support for the equipment and plant needed to implement the solutions.
So far, PAMCO has concluded a comprehensive support agreement (EF custom design agreement) with EFT for process development and basic plant design and has been studying the practical application of emulsion-flow solvent extraction to the process of manufacturing raw materials for LIB. PAMCO developed a separation and extraction process through lab-scale experiments and examined the equipment needed to realize this process on a commercial scale. As a result, PAMCO has developed a solvent extraction process that is highly compact and highly efficient compared to a mixer-settler, which is a conventional solvent extractor. PAMCO has also confirmed that the developed process can achieve the high quality required for raw materials of LIB cathodes. Moreover, through scale-up experiments of the emulsion-flow equipment, PAMCO has verified that the developed solvent extraction process is suitable for practical, cost-effective application to commercial production.
PAMCO aims to achieve its long-term vision of becoming “a comprehensive materials company that co-creates a sustainable, recycling-oriented society” by developing and commercializing not only manufacturing processes for LIB raw materials but also low-cost, high-efficiency, high-purity refining processes for other critical metals.
Explanation of the emulsion-flow technology
Solvent extraction, one of the methods to separate and purify substances, is a technique for selectively extracting only the target component by utilizing the distribution of substances in two different immiscible liquids. Whereas the conventional solvent extraction technology requires three distinct phases in which liquids are mixed, left still, and then separated, emulsion-flow technology executes those three phases simultaneously simply by feeding solution into solvent. Emulsion-flow technology is an innovative technology capable of achieving a production capacity that is 10 times or greater than that attainable with conventional technology. Therefore, equipment based on emulsion-flow technology can be downsized to at least 1/10 the size of equipment based on conventional technology, and, moreover, running costs are lower. Furthermore, the use of a multi-stage emulsion-flow extractor capable of continuous processing can achieve 99.99% purity or higher, realizing high-purity purification of critical metals at a lower cost and higher efficiency than in the case of a conventional mixer-settler.
Company name: PACIFIC METALS CO., LTD.
Head office: 1-6-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Representative: Aoyama Masayuki, President and Representative Director
Capital: 13,922 million yen
Established: December 1, 1949
Company website: https://www.pacific-metals.co.jp/en/
Company name: Emulsion Flow Technologies Ltd.
Head office: 2-5, Oaza Shirakata, Tokai-mura, Naka-gun, Ibaraki Pref.
Representative: Hiroshi Suzuki, President and CEO
Capital: 535 million yen (including legal capital surplus)
Established: April 5, 2021
Company website: https://emulsion-flow.tech
For more information about EFT, please click on the link below and download a PDF: https://emulsion-flow.tech/2022/03/01/en/
Source: PACIFIC METALS CO., LTD.