PRISM will Produce High Purity and High Value Products In demand for Today's Emerging and Leading-edge Industrial and Metallurgical Applications
Carbonyl Powders - Iron and Cobalt
The carbonyl process to be implemented by PRISM can produce fine, spherical powders (<10μm) that retail for up to US$12,000 per tonne. Nickel and iron are the two primary metal powders produced today primarily in Canada, Europe and Asia. These high-purity (>99.99%) powders are used in several high-end primary applications including the production of sophisticated and complex automotive and aerospace parts (powder metallurgy and metal injection molding), in the additive manufacturing (3D) printing industry and for use in pharmaceuticals. Secondary markets include food additives, magnetic materials, diamond binders, pigments for paints and enamels and diamond catalysts.
The global market for powder metallurgy parts and powder shipments was at $20.7 billion in 2011 and was forecast to reach $26.5 billion in 2017. Thermal decomposition of metal carbonyl is one of the main methods of production of metal powders today. This method allows precise control of the size and the shape of powder particles. The carbonyl iron process produces high-yields of pure iron, has low operating costs, requires less capital investment and is highly automated.
PRISM's Clear Hills resource, as reported in its NI 43-101 technical resource report, contains 182 million tonnes of contained iron and 2.45 billion pounds of contained vanadium pentoxide, will support many decades of production of carbonyl iron powder and vanadium electrolyte to meet increasing global demand. Cobalt has also been successfully recovered in preliminary carbonyl tests, and may be produced as a by-product.
Vanadium Pentoxide / Vanadium Electrolyte
Coupled with reliable energy storage, renewable energy is one of the obvious ways to reduce the effect of greenhouse gasses on climate change. The world’s energy storage revolution is revving up, and energy storage will change the way the power grid operates. The ability to store renewable energy has long been a holy grail for clean energy, and large-scale battery storage is gaining momentum.
In a report by IHS Markit, the global energy storage market is expected to double to 2.9 GWh installed capacity by the end of 2016. IHS also believes grid-connected energy storage capacity will surge to 21 GWh globally by 2025. The energy-storage business has the potential to be a $150 billion market within a few years according to Goldman Sachs.
PRISM is poised to become a major supplier of vanadium pentoxide, a critical component used in grid-scale energy storage batteries, with a resource of 2.45 billion pounds of contained vanadium pentoxide. (557 million tonnes indicated at 0.21% V2O5 – NI 43-101 technical resource report by SRK Consulting (Canada) in July 2012).
The greatest challenge in support of the rapid expansion of renewable energy is storage, and vanadium’s greatest opportunity. A vanadium-based battery called the Vanadium Flow Battery (VFB) is regarded as one of the leading energy storage systems. VFBs store energy and can be adapted to meet specific energy storage and power demands.
Vanadium's four positive valence states (+2 through +5) make it such an excellent energy storage media. The VFB is chemically and structurally different from any other battery. It has a lifespan of tens of thousands of cycles, does not self-discharge while idle or generate high amounts of heat when charging, can charge and discharge simultaneously, and can release huge amounts of electricity instantly – over and over again.
VFBs are unique in their ability to meet specific energy storage and power demands of almost any size. Because the electrolyte that stores the energy in a VFB is housed in external tanks, it allows power and energy density to be scaled up independently of each other. Simply increasing the size of the tanks permits more power to be stored.
Unlike other competing flow battery systems, a very high number of charges and discharges can occur in a VFB system without any significant decrease in capacity. The VFB has an 87 percent energy efficiency and its energy-holding electrolyte operates at room temperature and never wears out, making the VFB a environmentally-friendly energy storage system. The VFB is the only battery technology today capable of powering everything from a single home (kilowatt hour capacity) right up to the storage demands of a power grid (megawatt hour capacity) to help smooth out the unpredictable flow of energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels.
There have been considerable developments in the advancement of vanadium flow battery technology for grid storage applications. These advancements are expected to both reduce the size and cost of the VFB, and in turn, accelerate their implementation on a commercial level. An example of the efforts to commercialize VFBs is the work in Germany to produce a 20 MWh capacity VFB installation that would utilize approximately 33 tonnes of battery-grade vanadium pentoxide and would provide enough energy to supply power to roughly 2000 households for an entire day. The advancements in the development of the VFBs by leading research institutes across the globe are expected to both reduce the size and cost of the VFB, and in turn, accelerate their implementation on a commercial level.
According to Goldman Sachs, the greatest opportunity for lithium-based batteries lies ahead in the form of transportation applications. In 2014 alone, more than 70 million cars were sold globally, providing an enormous available market for lithium-based batteries. A typical cell phone uses 5-7 grams of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in its battery. A Tesla Model S with a 70kWh battery uses 63 kilograms – an equivalent content of more than 10,000 cell phones.
Lithium could be a key enabler of the electric car revolution and replace gasoline as the primary source of transportation fuel. Thanks to technology breakthroughs, favorable policy, and supportive public opinion, electric vehicles (EVs) appear poised for a sustained period of superior growth with Goldman Sachs estimating 22% EV penetration in 2025 from under 3% today. The core material that enables lithium-ion batteries to function is lithium.
PRISM has the potential to become a key supplier of battery-grade lithium carbonate and a supplier of technology that could help revolutionize lithium extraction from formation brines. The company believes, based on available and extensive regional hydrogeologic studies, that some of the best performing Devonian reef reservoirs exist under its permits, that could serve as a foundation for producing significant volumes of lithium-bearing brine to support commercial lithium extractive and refining operations.
Acquiring technology to economically extract lithium from formation waters is fundamental to commercial success. PRISM has taken a key step by collaborating with a strategic technology partner, with a focus on adapting and optimizing their commercial processing platform for the extraction and concentration of the lithium and other elements of interest from formation brines.
Lightweight Clay Aggregates
The near-surface iron-vanadium deposit are overlain by bentonitic-rich expandable clays. The clays will be stripped (and stockpiled) to expose the flay-lying ironstone during the mining operations.
PRISM has identified a number of applications for these valuable clays, and will be conducting ongoing research and product development initiatives with a focus on addressing the many markets and applications available for these environmentally-friendly aggregate products. Markets for lightweight aggregates include the construction, geotechnical, horticulture, hydroponics, filtration and decorative stone products.