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Lithium extraction startup Novalith raises $2.5 million seed round

- October 26, 2021 2 MIN READ
Novalith, Steven Vassiloudis
Novalith co-founder and CEO Steven Vassiloudis
Novalith Technologies, a climate technology startup that’s developed a more environmentally friendly extraction process for lithium, has raised $2.5 million in a seed round.

The raise was led by the CEFC’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund, which contributed $1.5 million. The US-based Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust’s Neglected Climate Opportunities LLC also joined the round.

Novalith has developed a process for extracting lithium that sequesters carbon dioxide and eliminates the need for conventional chemicals processing. It also means extensive offshore processing is not required, thus substantially reducing production costs, and improving sustainability.

Lithium is a key component in batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage. Global battery uptake is expected to grow at least nine-fold over the next decade, amid an increased focus on sustainable production.

The funds are for the build-out and operation of a pilot plant in Sydney, ahead of a commercial demonstration plant.

Co-founder and CEO Steven Vassiloudis said that Novalith can be an important part of sustainable supply solutions, as well as help resource owners process lithium onshore.

“The future of lithium mining and refining will require the elimination of carbon-intensive energy sources, and ideally turn carbon waste into carbon value. This is what we are working towards,” he said.

“Novalith’s 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.” 

Vassiloudis is a chemical engineer and co-founded the business with two others. Chief technology officer Dr Andrew Harris is a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Sydney, and chief business development officer Christiaan Jordaan also founded Sicona Battery Technologies.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said Novalith’s technology has the potential to turn Australia into a major processing, manufacturing and trading hub for lithium resources.

“Large batteries will play a transformative role in our energy future, enabling Australia to maximise the benefits of our abundant renewable resources and accelerate our transition to a low emissions economy,” he said.

“As the largest lithium miner in the world, it is vital that we secure critical mineral supply chains to develop sovereign capability for the industry and to be more competitive globally. By investing in this ground-breaking Novalith technology, we are backing the development of a competitive sustainable business of the future.”

Clean Energy Innovation Fund executive director Ben Gust said ongoing demand for low-footprint lithium is likely to strengthen as regulators and markets transition to more sustainable supply chains.

“Novalith has built an impressive team with relevant commercial and technical backgrounds. The company has also outlined an exciting strategy to scale quickly as the demand for lithium continues to escalate,” he said.