Environmental Clean Technologies Limited (ASX: ECT) (ECT or Company) is pleased to provide the following update on the progress of its project in India and local activities.

Key points

India

Local Activities

Research Collaboration Agreement (RCA)

Over the past 2 weeks, ECT Chairman, Glenn Fozard, together with CMD ECT India, Mr Ashley Moore, and Chief Operating Officer, Jim Blackburn have been in India to attend meetings with NLC India Limited (NLCIL), NMDC Limited (NMDC) and Indian Government representatives and to oversee the conclusion of the final compliance and legal review of the Research Collaboration Agreement (RCA) as outlined in the Company’s 1 October 2018 announcement.

The CMD’s of both NLCIL and NMDC continue to express clear, strong commitment to the project, acknowledging that the prospect of the project being the largest ever research and development (R&D) collaboration between Australia and India has the eyes of Government keenly directed towards them, driving the complexity of internal requirements and need to undertake rigorous review.

Importantly, ECT has supported this recent review process through the additional support and analysis work provided by ECT’s advisers Corrs Chambers Westgarth (Legal advisers, Australia), Grant Thornton (Tax and Accounting, Mumbai) and Induslaw (Legal and Compliance, Mumbai).

ECT understands that the RCA review report from external consultant Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (L&S) has been completed, and the three companies (NLCIL, NMDC and ECT) will be meeting in Chennai today, October 16 to finalise discussions and agree on an updated RCA ahead of Board approvals.

Commenting from Neyveli, ECT Chief Operating Officer, Jim Blackburn said “As our shareholders are very much aware, this further round of review for finalisation of the RCA has been an important and detailed process, necessary to clear the way for seeking Board approvals from each of the partners scheduled for early in November. While we are aware that NLCIL conducted an earlier Board meeting last Tuesday (9 October 2018) in Delhi to attend to internal compliance matters, we have been told NLCIL will hold an additional Board meeting in the first week of November, seeking approval to proceed. While this is later than the target date previously set by both NLCIL and NMDC (30th October 2018), the parties have agreed that no further extension is required and that the MOU remains on-foot and effective.

“The Board and Executive of ECT are keenly aware that as we approach these final stages of the contracting process, there is increased attention given by our shareholders and the broader market to each detailed step in reaching financial close for the India project. This is to be expected yet does not detract from the need for management to focus on the project implementation as a whole, as it is this approach which will ultimately drive growth in shareholder value. Each of the parallel processes outlined previously including contracting and governance, financing, engineering, resource planning and the like each play a part in the successful delivery of the Pilot plant project and lay the foundation for our progress into commercialisation.”

ECT COO, Jim Blackburn remains in India this week, and together with ECT India CMD Ashley Moore and Chairman Glenn Fozard, will ensure on-the-ground representation by ECT through to signing to provide any further support necessary to facilitate the consideration and approval of the RCA by the Boards of NLCIL and NMDC.

Prior to, and immediately following the expected partner Board approvals, key processes and milestones for the project will include:

Senior delegates from NLCIL have expressed a desire to attend the ECT AGM on November 30, and both NLCIL and NMDC will be invited to attend to jointly present the project to ECT shareholders.

Project Promotion

As previously reported (1 October 2018), in the lead up to financial close of the India project, ECT has been active in a number of global forums in response to growing industry and media interest in the project and its Coldry and Matmor technologies.

These forums provide an important opportunity to develop key strategic links between the R&D stage of the India project and a future pathway for commercial projects.

In addition to media briefings, the following events have recently been completed.

Following the Chairman’s meeting with the Additional Secretary for Ministry of Steel, Rasika Chaube, she presented to the conference in her closing remarks that, “Indian companies are encouraged to JV with foreign companies, particularly those foreign companies that are able to support technology transfer to India in its pursuit of the country’s improving competitive position as the nation seeks to deliver an additional 200 million tonnes of steel output through to 2030.”

Chairman Glenn Fozard commented, “not only does our collaborative project with NLCIL and NMDC meet 8 out of 10 objectives of the Ministry of Steel’s Steel Development Fund’s strategic R&D targets, it’s also structured under preferred arrangements, as expressed by Ms Chaube, of the Government of India’s policy for technology transfer.”

This outcome is a testament to the collaborative approach ECT has taken in listening to its partners’ needs and then converting that into strong commercial structures backed by comprehensive legal and tax planning.

Chairman Glenn Fozard commented further in relation to the India project, “The development of this project has been a long and challenging process, and we acknowledge the patience and, often at times, frustration our shareholders have experienced along this journey. But this is not without reason and reflects the nature of our project as being the largest ever R&D collaboration between Indian and Australian companies. Make no mistake, this is not a throwaway comment, and all shareholders should be proud of the company’s ability to persist and progress such a watershed project, where the recognition of this achievement, and what it means for our company, should only improve. The enormity of effort and work needed to complete a deal like this is difficult to appreciate and accounts for why no other company has achieved the size of R&D collaboration we are aiming to close on soon. We are acutely aware that there is no second prize in the pursuit of such lofty goals and much of the effort will be wasted if we were not able to finalise the project, but the Company and its Board and executive are confident that this will not be the case.”

The Company looks forward to providing further updates as the above activities progress.

Local Activities

Steam Package Contracts - Update

Further to the Company’s announcement of 9 August 2018 highlighting the signing of a $1.3 million, 5-year deal for the provision of a turnkey solution for steam services to a customer in Victoria, Australia, the Company is pleased to advise the first stage of the contract has been completed.

The contract entails:

A key requirement identified during the scoping phase was the need to maximise the operational efficiency of the customer’s boiler system, which was originally designed to run on low-grade biomass such as wood chips and briquetted rice husks, rather than higher-energy solid fuel such as Coldry.

As such, the first phase of the contract entailed the design, fabrication, installation and commissioning of an automated solid fuel feed system designed to optimise Coldry consumption.

Scoping estimates indicate the system will use around half as much Coldry solid fuel compared to biomass. This efficiency is due to Coldry’s lower moisture content, and significantly higher energy value and combustion temperature.

The feed system (shown below) consists of a variable feed-rate hopper and incline screw conveyor, controlled via a computer-automated program.

Commissioning of the system will commence this week, with the provision of ‘process steam’ anticipated to commence under contract in late October.

Boiler Package Contracts - Update

ECT COO Mr Jim Blackburn commented “The Victorian energy market has changed dramatically in the past three years, with wholesale electricity prices trebling since 2015[1] and gas prices doubling[2] over the same period. This has driven many businesses, reliant on industrial scale process heat, to seek alternatives.

“Unfortunately, this has put pressure on local biomass supplies, resulting in shortages and price increases, in addition to existing issues regarding the security of consistent supply. Consumers are turning to expensive stop-gap measures such as diesel. Economically, this is unsustainable, driving business to seek alternative long-term solutions.

“This problem has created an opportunity to sell product from our Coldry R&D facility. Further, following extensive consultation with consumers, it’s clear they want someone to provide a solution that delivers steam, and saves money, allowing them to focus on their core business. This has created an opportunity for ECT, together with leading boiler operator Mecrus, to deliver a turnkey solution tailored to the end user’s equipment and needs.”

Building Strong Relationships with Boiler Manufacturers and Service Providers

ECT is pleased to advise that in support of its strategic boiler and steam package offering to the Victorian and Tasmanian markets, the Company has teamed up with Hi-Tech QLD and John Thompson boilers in addition to Mecrus to provide a complete turnkey solution for biomass boiler systems, specifically designed to accept multi-feedstock fuel, including wood waste, crop stubble and municipal green waste, underpinned by Coldry as the baseload fuel.

This has led to ECT’s first joint tender submission, along with Hi-Tech and John Thompson for the provision a 10MW(th) boiler system to a customer in Tasmania.

ECT is also working closely with these partners to undertake feasibility and pricing for a biomass boiler system on-site at its Bacchus Marsh test facility to replace the current waste oil boiler system.

The market for industrial steam and the boilers required to produce this steam are at a significant cross-road.  Most users have turned away from 100% coal-based boiler systems, and gas-fired systems have become prohibitively expensive. This has seen the next wave of migration towards biomass fuel solutions.

There are still great challenges ahead for users of industrial steam when considering a pure biomass boiler system, including lower efficiency, single fuel dependency, transport and storage issues and shorter equipment lifetime.

ECT aims to solve some of these problems by offering a high-quality boiler system that can utilise variable biomass inputs while also using Coldry.

The intent behind this approach is to be able to deliver a steam solution that allows users the flexibility to choose the biomass that is most suitable (on the basis of cost, quality and supply), while being underpinned by a fuel stock (Coldry) that serves as a consistent, cost-effective base-load.

We expect that at most times, these boiler systems would use <50% Coldry to retain the biomass status, but where quality biomass becomes unavailable, Coldry would ensure continuity of steam production and operations.

Chairman Glenn Fozard commented that “there is an absence of a complete turnkey solution in the Victorian and Tasmanian markets that offers ‘steam over the fence’ to industrial users, while also delivering new equipment and often cheaper monthly operational costs. This requires assembling a high-quality team of end-to-end service providers, covering boiler plant and equipment, installation, operations and maintenance, fuel supply and management and financing. ECT now has that capability.

“The steam and boiler package approach, coupled with equipment financing solutions via our subsidiary, ECT Finance Limited, looks to deliver reliability and affordability, striking a chord in the local market.

“Following the successful rollout of our first contract, and the demonstration of our capability to deliver these packages we will continue to market our turnkey solution across Victoria and Tasmania.”

The Company will provide further updates on its local market activity as projects progress.

 

For further information, contact:

Glenn Fozard – Chairman           [email protected]

 

[1] Source: Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) - https://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/National-Electricity-Market-NEM/Data-dashboard#average-price-table

[2] Source: Australian Energy Market Regulator (AER) - https://www.aer.gov.au/wholesale-markets/wholesale-statistics/victorian-gas-market-average-daily-weighted-prices-by-quarter

 

Environmental Clean Technologies Limited (ASX: ESI) (ECT or Company) is pleased to announce the signing of the Project Agreement with NLC India Limited (NLCIL) and NMDC Limited (NMDC) for the largest-ever joint R&D collaboration between Australia and India.

Key points:

Photo (from left): Mr V. Manoharan (Chief of NLCIL’s Centre for Applied Research and Development), Mr P. Selvakumar (Director Projects & Planning, NLCIL), Mr Ashley Moore (Chairman-Managing Director, ECT India), Mr Glenn Fozard (Chairman, ECT), Dr N.K. Nanda (Director – Technical, NMDC) and Mr Rajan Kumar (General Manager – R&D, NMDC).

 

Further to recent announcements in the lead up to today’s Signing Ceremony, senior executives and Directors from NLCIL, NMDC and ECT executed the Project Agreement in the presence of His Excellency, Dr A.M. Gondane and representatives from the Australia India Business Council.

The ceremony, led by ECT Chairman Mr Glenn Fozard, featured speeches by the Mr P. Selvakumar, Director (Projects & Planning) at NLCIL, Dr Narendra K. Nanda, Director (Technical) at NMDC and Mr Ashley Moore, Chairman-Managing Director of ECT India.

Mr Fozard commented “We’ve spent the past four years building the relationship and crafting the process with NLCIL and NMDC in India with the aim of  taking our two technologies – Coldry and Matmor – through the scale up process and, if successful on to commercial deployment.

“Today marks a significant milestone on the journey which, all going to plan, will see the commissioning of our Coldry-Matmor pilot plant in India by the end of 2019.”

During the ceremony NLCIL’s Director of Projects and Planning Mr Selvakumar noted, “We want to use our lignite for alternative purposes. We want to dry the lignite. Coldry is a good technology for transforming lignite. When discussing lignite use with NMDC, we saw the opportunity to work together to achieve iron ore reduction as well, adding higher value to our resource through new applications.”

“We look forward to a successful project for the betterment of India.”

Dr Nanda, Director (Technical) of NMDC added, “We are standing here on this auspicious day to sign this agreement to build the pilot plant. If the pilot plant is successful, it can be taken to commercial scale.”

“We wish the project great success for all companies and both countries.”

His Excellency, Dr. Gondane (below, second from right) was quick to add his support to the collaboration, noting the importance of the project to addressing the challenges faced by India.

Photo (from left): Mr Ashley Moore (Chairman-Managing Director, ECT India), Mr P. Selvakumar (Director Projects & Planning, NLCIL), Mr Glenn Fozard (Chairman, ECT), Dr Gondane (High Commissioner for India in Australia) and Dr Narendra K. Nanda (Director – Technical, NMDC).

 

Next Steps

The Project Agreement sets out the agreed terms for detailed sub-agreements. These include a Master Technology Licence Agreement, Tripartite Collaboration Agreement and NLCIL, NMDC and ECT Services Agreements.

Following execution of the detailed sub-agreements the commencement of project works will be funded and able to commence.

The parties are on track to deliver these agreements by the end of August and look forward to providing further updates as activities progress.

Background

The agreement sees the commencement of the next stage of development for ECT’s two proprietary technologies:

The project entails two phases, commencing with an AUD 35 million R&D phase funded by the Indian partners, which aims to scale-up ECT’s Matmor and Coldry technologies to deliver an integrated pilot plant capable of producing ~2 tonnes of metal per hour.

Following successful R&D outcomes, phase two involves commercial expansion, targeting an integrated steelmaking facility with a proposed capacity of 500,000 tonnes per annum and an estimated cost of AUD 300 million.

The partners will then assess opportunities for global commercial expansion based on market assessment at that time.

For further information, contact:

Glenn Fozard – Chairman          [email protected]

 

Environmental Clean Technologies Limited (ASX: ESI) (ECT or Company) is pleased to provide the following statement regarding provisions within the Federal Budget that impact the business.

R&D Incentive Program Changes

The 2018 Federal Budget released last night proposes changes to the R&D Tax Incentive program that aim to reform the program, targeting integrity and fiscal affordability.

Of particular relevance to ECT are the changes that target companies with turnover less than $20M which propose to:

These changes, scheduled to be implemented on July 1st, 2018, were anticipated by the Company and while they generally represent a reduction in potential incentives for certain companies, these changes are not expected to result in a material change to ECT’s ongoing R&D programs or proposed Indian project.

Preparation for these changes has been pro-actively managed through the establishment of the Brevet R&D loan facility and the structure of the Master Project Agreement (MPA) covering the Company’s Indian project, of which the details will be announced in due course.

The changes will not come into effect until the fiscal year 2019 hence the current tax year’s R&D tax offset refund remains uncapped.

ECT Chairman Glenn Fozard, commented, “The Federal Government’s R&D Tax Incentive program has been highly supportive, contributing more than AU$12M to our R&D expenditure since 2011. We expect to continue to receive ongoing support from this targeted program as we develop further innovations across our technology suite.

“Given our experience in this field we were also well prepared for changes of this type, pre-emptively structuring our R&D financing and Indian project to mitigate the impact of such legislative changes.”

ECT Finance – Equity Lending Facility (ELF)

The Company is also pleased to advise it has received loan principal repayments of approximately $350,000 from ECT Finance (via ELF participants) and will continue to update shareholders as it receives these principal repayments in the future.

For further information, contact:

Glenn Fozard – Chairman          [email protected]

Environmental Clean Technologies Limited (ASX: ESI) (ECT or Company) is pleased to provide the following update on the progress of Coldry solid fuel commercial trial activities in the Victorian and Tasmanian markets.

Key points:

Further to the Company's previous updates on its local market business development activities (1 & 15 Nov 2017), several trial participants have indicated their intention to enter supply contracts for Coldry solid fuel volumes if further solid fuel trials also prove successful. Confirmation of these contracts are expected to justify the next stage of upgrades at the Bacchus Marsh High Volume Test Facility.

The Company’s maiden shipment of test product for a Tasmanian solid fuel trial customer has just been loaded, ready to transport.

ECT Chief Operating Officer, Jim Blackburn commented "The prospects for generation of revenues from our HVTF is an important element to our broader commercialisation strategy that wouldn't have been possible a few years ago. The local market pricing would not have supported test product sales, due to the higher cost of production associated with an R&D scale facility, which are typically non-commercial.

"However, the local market dynamics, inclusive of high gas prices, combined with the Stage 1 and Stage 2 upgrades at our Bacchus Marsh facility which have reduced our average production costs, present a strong opportunity for test product sales.

"Our team have worked in conjunction with logistics support partner Jebsens to develop leads. Several leads have progressed through testing, boiler system assessment and cost-benefit analysis, resulting in orders for live trials. We're now in the process of preparing to gear up production to service these customers.

"We have also partnered with independent boiler system specialist Paul Hoffman to assess and configure customers' existing systems for use with Coldry, in addition to helping end users specify, source, install and commission new boiler systems.

"Rounding off the turnkey approach is the ability to offer equipment finance through our subsidiary, ECT Finance Ltd."

Potential customers include large abattoirs as well as hydroponic and aeroponic facilities.

ECT currently plans to limit upgrades to the HVTF to a maximum 30,000-35,000 tonnes per annum capacity. Given the level of interest received to date, the Company is confident a sustainable market exists for a solid fuel here in Victoria and interstate, to supply energy-intensive industries currently having to manage increasing gas prices and/or limited or irregular supply of alternative solid fuels. As such the Company continues to develop its feasibility study for the establishment of a large-scale Coldry demonstration plant in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, the scoping study component of which is anticipated to conclude in February 2018.

Importantly, the proposed large-scale Coldry demonstration plant will leverage existing resources and infrastructure, with site selection at Yallourn power station announced on 15 November 2017.

The Victorian demonstration plant will be designed to an output capacity of ~170,000 tonnes per annum and will feature a zero CO2 footprint, having no direct emissions itself.

ECT Chairman Glenn Fozard commented, "Coldry solid fuel is an ideal solution to industries requiring large volumes of process heat.

"Further, it doesn't conflict with the Victorian government's renewable energy target, as neither wind nor solar are suitable for generating reliable, affordable process heat to such industries.

"In this respect, we are competing directly with the prices of natural gas and biomass alternatives, which given the current supply-demand profile, look like remaining high, and possibly escalating, well into the future.

"Beyond supplying these energy-intensive industries, we see potential to grow our Coldry capacity in Victoria over time to support any number of high value applications, including high-efficiency, low-emission (HELE) power generation to deliver reliable, affordable electricity, through to hydrogen production, and upgraded coal products such as activated carbon, PCI (pulverised coal injection) coal, and hydrocarbon liquids and gases.

"All these high-value applications can generate jobs while bringing down the emissions intensity of Victoria's world-class brown coal resource."

The Company will continue to provide further updates on the above activities as they progress.

 

For further information, contact:

Glenn Fozard – Chairman          [email protected]

Environmental Clean Technologies Limited (ASX: ESI) (ECT or Company) is pleased to announce the signing of a term sheet for a R&D Rebate loan facility through to January 2020 in support of the Company’s India project.

Key points:

The Company entered a Trading Halt on Wednesday 3rd January and subsequently requested a Voluntary Suspension on Friday 5th January to allow finalisation of a new finance facility.

The new finance facility entailed a market-wide assessment of providers for this type of lending, and the Company is pleased to announce that ECT’s incumbent ‘R&D rebate’ lender, Brevet, has been selected.

Brevet’s value proposition was the most favourable of all respondents, which includes highly competitive pricing on commercial terms, very nuanced knowledge of the R&D Tax Incentive program, and a longstanding relationship with ECT and understanding of its business. The selection process involved assessment against multiple measures, including loan-life cash-flow, sensitivity modelling and risk scoring, along with standard measures like interest rates, fees, costs and loan features.

The Company previously announced (22 December 2016) the execution of a Term Sheet with Brevet for an AUD$10 million debt funding facility. That Term Sheet has expired and been superseded by this new AUD$14 million facility, on more favourable terms to the Company.

Key Terms

Of the key terms for the loan facility, the interest rate remains subject to confidentiality, however the Company confirms that the facility offered by Brevet was unanimously agreed by the Board and the executive committee of ECT as being the superior offer presented, for all the reasons stated above, and in the best interests of shareholders.

The rate that ECT pays for this facility will be the subject of mandatory disclosure and audit review during the regular statutory reporting cycles which will invariably reinforce the Board’s ingoing view that this transaction is a great deal and allows the Company to progress its India Project with strength and purpose.

Other key terms include:

Security - As per the previous facility with Brevet, the R&D rebate provided to the Company under the R&D Tax Incentive program serves as the primary security for the new facility. The currently registered charge held at the PPSR will remain in place.

Defaults & covenants - The defaults and covenants contained within the Term Sheet are typical of the general terms and conditions for a facility of this type and the Company will provide timely updates if any of these are materially breached.

This facility is an important element for the Company in meeting its obligations under the Master Project Agreement (MPA) for the proposed Coldry-Matmor integrated project in India (further project details below).

The transaction secures ECT’s anticipated contribution to the project, which is estimated to cost in total and is supported by an overseas ruling for its Coldry technology (see announcement 21 February 2017). The Company has previously advised (3 March 2017) it has submitted an application for an overseas ruling for the Matmor process component of the project and expects an outcome will be notified early in 2018.

Glenn Fozard, Chairman of ECT, commented, “This outcome is proof that loyalty holds a mutual benefit to both borrower and lender. The past few years of dedicated use of Brevet’s loan facility to support our Australian R&D activities is now being recognised in highly competitive borrowing rates when it counts the most for our company, as we pursue the scale-up of our technologies with our Indian partners.”

“With this finance facility in hand we’re able to focus our efforts on finalising the current project review process ahead of submission to India’s national planning committee, NITI Aayog; and are aiming to reach financial close for the project within the current financial year.”

Trading Halt & Voluntary Suspension

The Company requests that the ASX lift the Voluntary Suspension immediately.

Project Background

The project initially focuses on the execution of a research and development (R&D) stage consisting of a Coldry demonstration plant integrated with a Matmor pilot plant.

With an estimated cost for the R&D stage of ~AUD30 million, the project is a first-of-a-kind collaboration between ECT, and two Indian government-owned enterprises; NLC India Limited (NLC) and NMDC Limited (NMDC).

ECT is the technology provider. India’s national lignite authority, NLC is the site host and coal supplier, and India’s national iron ore authority, NMDC is the iron ore supplier to the Matmor component of the project.

Funding of the R&D stage is split equally among the parties under the proposed MPA.

Following successful completion of the R&D stage, the MPA sets the framework for the transition of the project into a commercial phase, entailing a proposed 500,000 tonne per annum Matmor steel plant and commercial scale Coldry plant. The estimated capital cost for the commercial phase is AUD$300M+.

For further information, contact:

Ashley Moore – CMD of ECT India or Glenn Fozard – Chairman of ECT Ltd: [email protected]

Environmental Clean Technologies Limited (ASX: ESI) (ECT or Company) is pleased to provide the following update on the progress of its new hydrogen-based technologies, HydroMOR and COHgen.

Key points:

HydroMOR PCT Application Filed

Further to previous announcements regarding HydrMOR (24 Nov 2016) and COHgen, HydroMOR has taken the next significant step forward on its commercialisation pathway.

This time last year the Company announced the submission of a new Australian provisional patent application on an improved metal oxide reduction process called HydroMOR.

The submission of the provisional application here in Australia last November provided a 12-month window in which to subsequently submit an international patent application under International Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) rules.

The Company is pleased to advise it has filed its PCT application for HydroMOR within the 12-month window.

This outcome increases ECT’s confidence to develop this technology commercially.

Further general background on the PCT process is available below.

COHgen Strong Results Drive Provisional Patent Process

On 12 July 2017, the Company announced its research into the potential of hydrogen generation from brown coal.

The Company has continued to research the role that hydrogen plays in chemical reactions involving brown coal, which stems from its deeper understanding garnered via the development of the Matmor and HydroMOR processes.

Recent experimental activity at the Company’s R&D facility in Bacchus Marsh, northwest of Melbourne has confirmed initial hypotheses regarding the potential to liberate hydrogen from brown coal via the unique process developed for ECT by its lead scientist, Mr Keith Henley-Smith.

Further research and development is required to confirm scalability and techno-economic feasibility, however sufficient data has been generated to allow the Company to commence preparation of a provisional patent application for submission in coming months.

If successfully commercialised, COHgen has the potential to generate hydrogen from brown coal, delivering a higher value product from a low-cost resource for a market that is expected to grow exponentially in coming decades with the emergence of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCV’s).

Background – HydroMOR

The Company’s Matmor process has been the subject of significant activity in the past few years:

  1. The purchase of the Matmor Test Plant assets at its Bacchus Marsh facility (Dec 2014)
  2. The acquiring of the Matmor intellectual property from the original owners (Dec 2014)
  3. Subsequent development work related to the India project opportunity with partners, NLC India and NMDC
  4. Upgrade works to the Matmor Test Plant at Bacchus Marsh to ready it for a new period of experimental activity in support of Pilot Plant design works
  5. Execution of experimental activity over the past 12 months

The new process, HydroMOR, is an improvement over the existing Matmor process, deriving further advantage from its unique raw material base, especially the hydrocarbon-rich low-rank coals used in the role of reductant.

The process derives its name from the utilisation of hydrogen to enhance the reduction process used to transform metal oxides, such as iron ore, to a metallic state suitable for melting, refining and casting.

The benefits the Company sees in the application of the HydroMOR process include further reductions in plant capital cost due to its ability to achieve the required metal reduction at a lower temperature, and operating savings regarding raw material efficiency improvements, as well as decreased CO2 intensity. By applying the capital cost savings to carbon offsets, the potential of carbon emission-neutral steel production is brought closer.

Background – COHgen

Investors will understand that the Company is not at liberty to disclose the details regarding COHgen due to the need to secure the intellectual property via the patent process first.

Suffice to say, the invention of the HydroMOR process as an improvement over the Matmor process took the Company’s researchers in new and interesting directions, resulting in further hypotheses and a series of inventive steps that led to COHgen.

Mr Keith Henley-Smith, Chief Engineer for COHgen and formerly the Chief Engineer for Matmor and HydroMOR, has again led the breakthroughs for ECT in this field of research resulting in a unique process capable of liberating hydrogen and other valuable gas streams from brown coal. Initial data suggests the process may be more efficient than the current dominant hydrogen production method involving the ‘steam reforming’ of natural gas.

Background – Patent Application Process

To obtain patent protection, it is ultimately necessary for an application to be filed with a Patent Office in each country where protection is to be sought. However, international conventions exist that enable applications to be initially filed in a single country, with subsequent applications being filed individually in other jurisdictions within a defined time limit.

A single International Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application can be filed, based on an application in a single country such as Australia, covering several contracting states. The PCT application does not ultimately get granted as a patent, but rather allows the filing of national patent applications in individual countries to be deferred up to a set date, typically 30 months from the filing date of the first patent application, such as the first provisional patent application.

While most countries require a local patent application to be filed, in some cases, regional patent applications can be filed covering a group of individual countries. For example, a European patent application can be filed, which can allow subsequent patents to be granted in up to 38 countries.

Each country will typically perform an independent search and then assess whether the patent application meets the patentability requirements, considering their own local law.  Assuming any objections are overcome, the patent application can then be granted allowing this to be subsequently enforced to prevent third parties exploiting the invention.

Patent rights can be assigned or can be licensed on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis.

For further information, contact:

Glenn Fozard – Chairman             [email protected]