Innovation Metals Corp. Successfully Completes Initial Extraction-Rate Testing of the RapidSX™ Technology for Rare-Earth Elements Separation
TORONTO, July 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Innovation Metals Corp. (“IMC” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce the successful completion of initial extraction-rate testing of its proprietary RapidSX™ separation technology and to provide an update on the Company’s RapidSX commercialization demonstration program and related timelines. A key technical milestone in the commercialization of RapidSX, the extraction-rate testing confirmed quantitatively the ability of the technology to rapidly extract rare-earth elements (“REEs”) from an initial REE feedstock using a standard extractant, at rates far faster than the incumbent technology.
- Successful initial extraction-rate testing demonstrated that the RapidSX technology is highly effective at extracting REEs from solutions, within a range of flow rates;
- RapidSX column design for commercial deployment is in the finalization stage; and
- IMC continues to advance the commercialization of the RapidSX technology via proprietary commercial hardware and software capabilities. This innovative, dual-channel approach will underpin the successful commercialization of RapidSX for REE separation, while also advancing non-REE RapidSX applications.
RapidSX Extraction-Rate Testing
The rate of extraction is an important contributor to the final design of the individual columns that will be used in RapidSX-based solvent-extraction (“SX”) circuits, influencing their overall size when deploying the technology for particular applications. The recent testing looked at the effects of flow rate and residence time on the rate of extraction from a mixed REE solution.
The initial quantitative test results using a standard, commercial extractant for REEs indicate that the rate of mass transfer during operation of the RapidSX columns may be at least one order-of-magnitude higher than that which occurs with the use of mixer-settler units for conventional SX extraction of REEs from solutions, i.e., at least ten times faster.
IMC Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Dr. Gareth Hatch, stated, “The results of the initial extraction-rate testing for the current RapidSX columns are highly encouraging. Additional extraction-rate testing to validate and optimize platform parameters will be undertaken in coming weeks, as IMC finalizes the design of the physical RapidSX hardware for deployment in IMC’s forthcoming RapidSX Demonstration Plant. Additional extraction-rate testing will also be utilized to look at the influence of alternative extractants, currently being evaluated via equilibrium isotherm work.”
Finalization of RapidSX Column Design
In addition to the initial extraction-rate testing, IMC has been working to finalize the individual physical RapidSX column assembly design so that it will be suitable for commercial deployment. Computational fluid dynamics (“CFD”) software has been used to model fluid flows to subsequently fine tune the design of certain components that will be utilized in the physical column assemblies.
Final column designs for the RapidSX Demonstration Plant (“Demo Plant”) are in the process of completion, and will be tested in a demo-scale module ahead of construction of the Demo Plant, to empirically confirm effectiveness, at IMC’s RapidSX Commercialization Development Facility (“CDF”) in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Commercialization of the RapidSX Technology
IMC’s ongoing commercialization work for the processing of REE feedstocks using RapidSX has now converged to simultaneous commercial hardware and software development. Together, these two initiatives will underpin the deployment of the RapidSX technology at commercial scale.
- RapidSX Commercial Hardware Platform Development
The hardware platform development focuses on all of the physical hardware that is required for utilization of the RapidSX technology. This includes the proprietary RapidSX columns, as well as the supporting instrumentation, controls, sensors, piping, pumps, and all other physical equipment required.
Wherever possible, IMC will utilize the same hardware components in the forthcoming Demo Plant, as those that will be deployed at commercial scale. This will allow the Company to operate a Demo Plant at the CDF — scheduled for construction and commissioning later this year — that will very much look and feel like a full-scale, commercial facility.
- RapidSX Commercial Software Tool Development
In parallel to the RapidSX hardware development work, IMC’s technical team is focused on the development of a proprietary RapidSX software tool to instruct and control the hardware platform during operation. At the heart of this software tool will be the mathematical model previously disclosed by IMC, which will utilize the empirical REE extraction and separation data generated by IMC over the past several months, from a number of REE feedstocks. Once complete, the integrated software tool will work in concert with the hardware platform to provide near real-time adjustments to variations in feed and flow parameters, as appropriate. The same tool will also be responsible for determining the optimal metallurgical flowsheet for specific mixed REE concentrate feedstocks (input) and the specific REE oxides to be produced (output). This dictates the configuration and staging of the RapidSX hardware and controls the hardware platform. The software tool will allow IMC to analyze numerous flowsheet scenarios to achieve cost optimization, without the need for onerous and time-consuming “wet chemistry” development work.
For more information on IMC’s RapidSX commercialization development, please refer to the following IMC video: ‘Dr. Hatch discusses the commercialization-development program for the RapidSX™ separation technology‘.
RapidSX Commercialization Timeline
As announced by IMC on February 1 and May 4, 2021, the commissioning of IMC’s RapidSX Demo Plant is scheduled to commence in late Q3 / early Q4 2021, with a comprehensive, independent techno-economic study and the design of a commercial-scale REE separation facility, both planned for completion by Q1 2022. With the anticipated ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Demo Plant on currently available REE feedstocks, IMC expects the RapidSX technology to be ready for commercial adoption and implementation in less than 12 months (in Q2/Q3 2022), via revenue-producing licensing agreements with IMC customers.
About Innovation Metals Corp.
IMC has developed the proprietary RapidSX™ process, for the low-cost separation and purification of rare-earth elements, Ni, Co, Li and other technology metals, via an accelerated form of solvent extraction. IMC is commercializing this approach for a number of metals, to help enable mining and metal-recycling companies to compete in today’s global marketplace. IMC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV:UCU) (OTCQX:UURAF).
About the RapidSX™ Technology
IMC developed the RapidSX separation technology with early-stage assistance from the United States Department of Defense (“US DoD”), later resulting in the production of commercial grade, separated rare-earth oxides (“REOs”) at the pilot scale. RapidSX combines the time-proven chemistry of conventional solvent extraction (“SX”) with a new column-based platform, which significantly reduces time to completion and plant footprint, as well as potentially lowering capital and operating costs. SX is the international rare-earth element (“REE”) industry’s standard commercial separation technology and is currently used by 100% of all REE producers worldwide for bulk commercial separation of both heavy and light REEs. Utilizing similar chemistry to conventional SX, RapidSX is not a “new” technology, but represents a significant improvement on the well-established, well-understood, proven conventional SX separation technology preferred by REE producers.
This news release contains projections and statements that may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian, United States and other laws. Forward-looking statements in this release may include, among others, statements regarding the future plans, costs, objectives or performance of Innovation Metals Corp. (“IMC”), or the assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. In this news release, words such as “may”, “could”, “would”, “will”, “likely”, “believe”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “plan”, “goal”, “estimate”, and similar words and the negative forms thereof are used to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that are beyond IMC’s control, and which may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of IMC to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties could cause actual results and IMC’s plans and objectives to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking information. IMC can offer no assurance that its plans will be completed. These and all subsequent written and oral forward-looking information are based on estimates and opinions of management on the date and/or dates made and are expressly qualified in their entirety by this notice. Except as required by law, IMC assumes no obligation to update forward-looking information should circumstances or management’s estimates or opinions change.
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/28171a01-2258-41ed-b297-bce48d1d7f36