Veolia says it has been selected by Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre to supply lithium refining technologies to the Naraha plant in Japan.
Veolia Water Technologies will, under an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract, provide a chemical processing plant featuring HPD® evaporation and crystallisation technologies designed to convert lithium carbonate into lithium hydroxide employed in the manufacturing of batteries that power electric vehicles.
The Naraha facility is designed to convert 9,500 t/y of technical-grade lithium carbonate into 10,000 t/y of purified, battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
“Driven by their joint success in supporting the rapid evolution and adoption of electric mobility, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, a global trading company in the Toyota Group, and Orocobre Ltd, an Australia-based industrial chemicals company, along with their joint venture Toyotsu Lithium Corporation awarded Veolia a comprehensive EPC contract to build a new plant in Japan,” Veolia said.
Thanks to low-cost operations and strong demand from Japanese battery makers, lithium carbonate volumes have been steadily increasing since Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre first produced lithium in 2015 at the brine-based Olaroz lithium facility, in northern Argentina, it said.
To support this growth, the joint venture made an investment decisions to raise output at Olaroz by 25,000 t/y of lithium carbonate, bringing total capacity to 42,500 t/y, with the Naraha hydroxide plant to process this increased feedstock capacity being the first of its kind in Japan.
To demonstrate the feasibility of the process design, Veolia said it successfully conducted laboratory testing and simulated key unit operations including clarification, ion exchange purification, evaporation, crystallisation, and precipitation at its Phillip J Stewart Technology Center in Plainfield, Illinois (USA).
“The results obtained from this work confirmed the design parameters, reduced the technical risks and boosted the project viability resulting in the joint venture’s decision to allocate the funds for the investment, which was also supported by a grant from the Japanese government,” Veolia said.
Jim Brown, Executive Vice President Veolia Water Technologies Americas, said: “We are pleased to be chosen by Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre to help them deliver the flagship Naraha project. This award further consolidates Veolia’s position as the preferred technology supplier of cutting-edge chemical processing solutions to global lithium producers and refiners.”