Veolia to build lithium processing plant in Japan
Veolia Water Technologies will supply lithium refining technologies to Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre via a new plant to be constructed in Naraha, Japan. The Veolia chemical processing plant will utilise HPD evaporation and crystallisation technologies to convert lithium carbonate into lithium hydroxide, which is used to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles.
Via their joint venture — Toyotsu Lithium Corporation — Toyota Tsusho Corporation (a global trading company in the Toyota Group) and Australia-based industrial chemicals company Orocobre awarded Veolia the engineering, procurement and construction contract to build the new plant in Japan. Per annum, the Naraha facility is designed to convert 9500 tonnes of technical-grade lithium carbonate into 10,000 tonnes of purified, battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
Due to low-cost operations and strong demand from Japanese battery makers, lithium carbonate volumes have been increasing since 2015, when Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre first produced lithium at their brine-based Olaroz lithium facility in northern Argentina. To support increased demand, Toyotsu Lithium Corporation will boost output in the South American lithium market — the Naraha hydroxide plant is marked to process the increased feedstock capacity.
Veolia has successfully conducted feasibility testing, simulating key unit operations, at its Phillip J. Stewart Technology Center in the USA. This includes clarification, ion exchange purification, evaporation, crystallisation and precipitation. The results obtained from this work confirmed the design parameters, reduced technical risks and boosted project viability, resulting in the joint venture’s decision to allocate the funds for the investment.
“We are pleased to be chosen by Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre to help them deliver the flagship Naraha project,” said Jim Brown, Executive Vice President of Veolia Water Technologies (Americas).
“This award further consolidates Veolia’s position as the preferred technology supplier of cutting-edge chemical processing solutions to global lithium producers and refiners.”
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