TDK Ventures invests in Novalith clean lithium-extraction technology
- Novalith is emerging as a premier provider of environmentally clean and sustainable processes to extract and refine lithium, particularly as demand for battery-grade lithium is projected to skyrocket in upcoming years
- Novalith’s proprietary technology reduces cost and carbon emissions during lithium extraction, providing an economically and environmentally attractive option for rapid mass production
- TDK Ventures partners with Novalith to further contribute to its environmental and energy-transformation missions, as Novalith’s technology is key in the framework for clean, effective lithium-ion battery production to support global electrification
April 17, 2023
TDK Corporation (TSE: 6762) announced today that subsidiary TDK Ventures Inc. has invested in lithium-extraction startup Novalith. Novalith’s technology solutions capture and leverage carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere to isolate and extract higher quality – battery grade – lithium from resource deposits, with no harmful by-products. Their process uses less water, smaller infrastructure, and is a lower cost than current industry standards.
Projected demand for battery-grade lithium was expected to outpace supply by 2023, with more than a 9x increase by 20301 driven by a global trend towards electrification. In response, the interest in lithium production innovations is meteoric, as the industry looks to maintain a viable battery supply chain. However, current production methods struggle in terms of time, cost, and environmental impact. Standard practices include either:
- Traditional ore mining – requiring the age-old arduous process of finding lithium-containing ore deposits, followed by monumental investments in infrastructure and time to remove the resources from the ground, separate from less-desirable materials, and distribute
- Brine extraction – involving massive volumes of water and chemicals to recover lithium dissolved in pooled liquid deposits underground or in tailing ponds, more efficiently than traditional evaporative separation processes
Both approaches are incredibly slow and filled with upfront infrastructure costs. As an additional detriment, both processes have carbon-heavy output from machinery costs in addition to other toxic products (i.e., chemicals used in brine solution), which offset the environmental responsibility that lithium-ion batteries are intended to foster in the first place.
Novalith is working to change the game entirely, bringing a solution to the problems of time, money, and sustainability. Novalith is commercializing their patented LiCAL™ technology for lithium extraction and refining from lithium ores such as spodumene and clays. The technology uses CO2 instead of strong acids or bases to extract and directly convert the ore to battery grade lithium. With this novel process, Novalith has removed significant costs from the extraction process, and can therefore pass on that savings to the downstream supply chain. Novalith’s process not only contributes to a more economical bottom line for all lithium battery-powered products, but it also ensures that both the application and the material-sourcing aspects of electrified society are environmentally friendly. Solving battery production’s “dirty” materials supply chain has been a hotly contested topic and is held as a primary criticism of the electrification movement overall.
“To pave the way for a truly sustainable future in lithium-ion batteries and their uses, we have to decarbonize production,” said Steven Vassiloudis, Novalith CEO. “We want to take this one step further and turn carbon waste into carbon value. We’re using CO2 and sequestering it as part of our process. Doing so, we can minimize across the board – less infrastructure, fewer chemicals, no toxic by-production, less water, and less cost.”
“Novalith is addressing one of the most important technical challenges confronting, not just lithium, but all progress within the energy and environmental transformation movements,” commented Nicolas Sauvage, President of TDK Ventures. “Without the decarbonization of material extraction, in particular lithium, the life cycle of lithium batteries cannot be truly sustainable. Novalith has not only provided a solution to extract lithium faster to provide access to EV OEMs, but also doing it by converting CO2 into a battery-grade product, which drastically reduces the overall CO2 footprint of lithium production. The TDK Ventures team is proud to partner with such a vision, and we look forward to doing all we can to accelerate their technology to market.”
TDK Ventures invests globally in early-stage startups that leverage fundamental materials science to unlock an attractive and sustainable future for the world. TDK Ventures’ goal is to help every portfolio company to achieve its full potential for positive world impact. Signaling a strong trend for return on investment in materials science startups since 2019, four companies TDK Ventures invested in have gone public or been acquired. To find out more about TDK Ventures, interested startups or investment partners may contact TDK Ventures: www.tdk-ventures.com or
1 Garside, M. (2022, March 4). Projection total lithium demand globally 2030. Statista. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/452025/projected-total-demand-for-lithium-globally/
About TDK Corporation
TDK Corporation is a world leader in electronic solutions for the smart society based in Tokyo, Japan. Built on a foundation of material sciences mastery, TDK welcomes societal transformation by resolutely remaining at the forefront of technological evolution and deliberately “Attracting Tomorrow.” It was established in 1935 to commercialize ferrite, a key material in electronic and magnetic products. TDK‘s comprehensive, innovation-driven portfolio features passive components such as ceramic, aluminum electrolytic and film capacitors, as well as magnetics, high-frequency, and piezo and protection devices. The product spectrum also includes sensors and sensor systems such as temperature and pressure, magnetic, and MEMS sensors. In addition, TDK provides power supplies and energy devices, magnetic heads and more. These products are marketed under the product brands TDK, EPCOS, InvenSense, Micronas, Tronics and TDK-Lambda. TDK focuses on demanding markets in automotive, industrial and consumer electronics, and information and communication technology. The company has a network of design and manufacturing locations and sales offices in Asia, Europe, and in North and South America In fiscal 2022, TDK posted total sales of USD 15.6 billion and employed about 117,000 people worldwide.
About TDK Ventures
TDK Ventures Inc. invests in startups to bolster innovation in materials science, energy/power and related areas typically underrepresented in venture capital portfolios. Established in 2019 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of TDK Corporation, the corporate venture company’s vision is to propel the digital and energy transformations of segments such as health and wellness, next-generation transportation, robotics and industrial, mixed reality and the wider IoT/IIoT markets. TDK Ventures will co-invest and support promising portfolio companies by providing technical expertise and access to global markets where TDK operates. Interested startups or investment partners may contact TDK Ventures: www.tdk-ventures.com or .
Novalith Technologies is a Sydney, Australia-based climate technology company that uses carbon dioxide to simplify lithium chemicals production. We are motivated by our belief that the future of lithium mining and refining will require the elimination of carbon-intensive energy sources, and ideally turn carbon waste into carbon value. Novalith’s LiCALTM lithium-extraction 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 than existing and alternative processes.