Lithium has been all the rage on the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) in recent years. Just look at the meteoric rises posted by shares in the likes of Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS), Core Lithium Ltd (ASX: CXO), and Sayona Mining Ltd (ASX: SYA).
Enter vanadium. The element is usually used alongside iron to produce steel.
However, another use for vanadium that might pique the interest of those invested in ASX 200 lithium shares is in battery technology. Here's the lowdown.
Is vanadium coming for your ASX 200 lithium shares?
Vanadium is an essential component of vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB).
Unlike lithium-ion batteries, these can be re-used over and over, boast a typical lifespan of more than 20 years, and have a low risk of catching fire.
They can also be a more economical energy storage solution. University of New South Wales VRFB researcher Chris Menictas was quoted by ABC News as saying:
As you start increasing the storage time, vanadium becomes cheaper. At more than three hours' storage, vanadium is cheaper than lithium-ion.
Though, VRFBs aren't a total replacement for lithium-ion batteries. As the publication notes, they're far larger, making them unsuitable for phone or car batteries, and vanadium is more expensive to produce than lithium.
Thus, they will likely be used in industrial and grid energy storage solutions – an important piece of the renewable transition puzzle.
4 ASX shares involved in vanadium production
Australia's vanadium mining sector is still in its infancy, with a handful of projects in development stages. One major deposit is the Saint Elmo Vanadium Project, located in outback Queensland. It's in the hands of unlisted operator Mulicom Resources.
Fortunately, however, there's a large handful of Australian-listed vanadium shares out there.
First up is Neometals Ltd (ASX: NMT). The $467 million company has a collaboration agreement to look into constructing a vanadium recycling facility. It also owns Western Australia's Barrambie Titanium and Vanadium project.
Another ASX vanadium stock is Technology Metals Australia Ltd (ASX: TMT). It's behind Western Australia's Murchison Technology Metals Project – one of the world's highest-grade vanadium projects.
It was recently joined on the bourse by Richmond Vanadium Technology Ltd (ASX: RVT), owner of Queensland's Richmond Vanadium Project. The project is the first critical minerals endeavour to be dubbed a 'coordinated project' by the state's government.
Finally, Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX: AVL)'s Australian Vanadium Project, located in Western Australia, has been awarded major project status by the Australian government and lead agency status by the state's government.