Australian Vanadium Limited (AVL) has appointed Western Australian-based engineering group Primero, a subsidiary of NRW Holdings, to begin the process of constructing its vanadium electrolyte manufacturing plant, which will importantly include negotiating its precise location within Western Australia.
In July, AVL was awarded a $3.69 million federal government grant which it says will allow it to design, build and operate a $7.4 million commercial vanadium battery electrolyte plant as well as develop vanadium redox flow battery prototypes for both off-grid and residential settings. Conditions of the grant dictate the manufacturing project must be fully completed by March 31, 2024.
Shortly after being awarded the grant, AVL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with specialty chemical producer U.S. Vanadium LLC (USV) for the supply of vanadium oxides and, perhaps more importantly, gives AVL an exclusive technology licence for Australia and New Zealand to use USV’s proven electrolyte manufacturing technology.
This, the company says, will “simplifying design, construction, and startup” of its future manufacturing plant. The goal with the plant, AVL’s managing director Vincent Algar said, is to “cement” AVL’s downstream processing capability here in Australia.
While this plan has only just entered its first stage, the company is far more progressed with the vanadium mine its establishing in Gabanintha, almost smack bang in the middle of Western Australia. The Australian Vanadium Project, as its called, has been awarded Major Project Status by the federal government.
There are currently just a handful of vanadium mines operating in the world, with Australia home to some of the world’s biggest untapped deposits. AVL’s managing director Vincent Algar told pv magazine Australia in July that Western Australia “easily dominate the battery supply chain for vanadium inside and outside Australia.”
The company is pursuing these two avenues, mining and manufacturing, as part of its vision of vertically integrate the business and “value add” – moving from Australia’s traditional role of simply extracting and exporting raw minerals to instead creating products from those materials onshore, which typically has far higher profit margins.
AVL plans to supply vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) from the Australian Vanadium Project to manufacture vanadium electrolyte which will then be supplied to VRFB projects in Australia and in the Asia Pacific Region.
The manufacturing facility will start on a scale producing enough electrolyte per annum to fill vanadium redox flow batteries capable of storing 33 MWh. “For comparison, a single Tesla Powerwall stores 13.5 kWh of energy, with the electrolyte plant producing the equivalent energy storage capacity of 2,444 Powerwalls per year,” AVL’s statement said.
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