Leaf Resources have lodged an Australian patent application for a new silica extraction process using plant waste.
Plant material, especially in agricultural residues such as rice husks and straw, contain sources of silica which the process can extract.
The process is designed so reagents used to extract silica can be recovered and sold as a valuable by product.
Once extracted, the remaining biomass can be used in the company’s Glycell process, a separate system that turns biomass into chemicals that is designed to replace petrochemicals.
Silica has a wide range of uses depending on its grade, with the highest grade used to make microchips; an industry that is estimated to be worth more than US$300 billion a year.
The extract could be used to make alloys, insecticides, or pharmaceuticals.
Leaf Resources CEO Ken Richards said, “This patent is an important step in building our pipeline of biomass resources that can be applied to projects for producing valuable products, in particular where the identified biomass is a sustainable resource.”
More testing is required to assess the quality of the silica extract and determine its industrial use.