Innovation Metals Corp. Provides Update on the Commercialization of the RapidSX™ Rare-Earth Elements Separation Technology
TORONTO, Jan. 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Innovation Metals Corp. (“IMC” or the “Company”) is pleased to provide an update on the Company’s activities concerning the commercialization of its RapidSX™ technology for the separation and purification of rare-earth elements (“REEs”), at IMC’s Commercialization and Development Facility (“CDF”) in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
After completing extensive process and hardware design activities this year, commissioning of the RapidSX demonstration-scale pilot plant (“Demo Plant”) is currently scheduled to begin in Q1 2022. Following a comprehensive, independent techno-economic study and the subsequent design of a commercial-scale REE separation facility, IMC anticipates that the RapidSX technology will be ready for commercial adoption and implementation by IMC’s customers via revenue-producing licensing agreements by the end of 2022.
IMC Chairman, CEO and co-founder Dr. Gareth Hatch stated, “I am particularly pleased with the significant progress that the IMC team has made in recent months, as we work towards the key objective of constructing and commissioning the Demo Plant. Interest in the RapidSX technology for the separation of REEs and other critical metals is as strong as ever, and we continue to actively engage and to progress discussions with a number of third parties.”
Completion of RapidSX Hardware Design and Demo Plant Layout
IMC has completed the initial design and layout of the individual RapidSX column assemblies for the RapidSX Demo Plant, as well as the pump and piping networks and other physical hardware required. The Company is in the final stages of selecting and subsequently procuring the components of the instrumentation and control system that will be utilized for the Demo Plant. The layout of the RapidSX columns that make up the Demo Plant had been further optimized to reduce the overall footprint at the CDF, as shown in Figure 1.
Working with the Company’s laboratory partner Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc. (“KPM”), IMC has undertaken initial Hazard Identification and Analysis (“HAZID / HAZAN”) work at the CDF, ahead of completing a standard Hazard and Operability (“HAZOP”) study for the Demo Plant. HAZID / HAZAN is an important ‘best-practice’ risk-assessment process for engineering projects of this type, and the associated HAZOP study will be an important means of ensuring safe, efficient and reliable plant operations.
Construction and Commissioning of the Demo Plant
Procurement of the other components for the Demo Plant is well underway, with some fabricated sub-assemblies and off-the-shelf items already having been received. The current target for the completion of construction is the end of Q1 2022, with commissioning and operation during an initial test campaign to commence shortly thereafter. IMC is carefully managing the procurement process, cognizant of the current volatility in the general supply chain at present, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following initial extraction-rate testing in the summer of this year, the team at KPM subsequently completed a series of additional extraction-rate tests to further validate the approach being taken, and to quantify the effects of the underlying phenomenon being exploited using the RapidSX columns. Such tests utilized various mixed REE solutions, including commercially-available feedstocks procured from a U.S.-allied source.
A subset of the tests were observed by an independent third party as part of the Independent Evaluation of the RapidSX technology, initiated earlier in the year. With the associated empirical work now concluded, IMC expects that a report describing the findings will be completed by the independent third party by mid-January 2022.
Mathematical Process Modeling
IMC has made significant progress in recent months on the mathematical modelling of the chemical processes that occur during the operation of the RapidSX technology. These models will form the basis of the proprietary software that will be utilized at the commercial scale, for the control of RapidSX-based separation facilities, to optimize parameters for the physical hardware platform. The mathematical models have already been effectively used in the development of REE separation flowsheets and regimes for extraction-rate testing, and will assist in the finalization of the flowsheet for the initial campaign, which will be undertaken using the Demo Plant.
In addition to the ongoing RapidSX development work, IMC has also been working with researchers at the University of Toronto, to develop and evaluate proprietary, cost-effective methods of reducing the quantity of yttrium (“Y”) in heavy-REE (“HREE”)-rich feedstocks, prior to separation using RapidSX. The empirical work is being overseen by IMC Technical Advisory Board member Prof. Gisele Azimi, associate professor in the Departments of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering.
Y is a low-value REE and reducing the quantity of Y in HREE feedstocks prior to subsequent separation, has the potential to reduce operating costs, as well to reduce the plant size required, thus reducing capital costs. The work has progressed very well to date and IMC looks forward to reporting on further developments in early 2022.
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).
For more information, please visit www.innovationmetals.com.
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.
Figure 1 is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/62813493-b63c-4dc8-a3d9-a6104387bde7