Metal Tech News - The Elements of Innovation Discovered

By A.J. Roan
For Metal Tech News 

Mining innovator awarded prestigious grant

Phoenix Tailings gets National Science Foundation support Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – June 3, 2020


Last updated 7/10/2022 at 2:37pm

Computer motherboard electronics critical metals from mining tailings


Phoenix Tailings has developed specialized processes to recover metals needed for high-tech and other applications from mine tailings and waste from the refining of metals.

Recently, Phoenix Tailings announced it has become a recipient of the National Science Foundation Phase I Small Business Innovation Research award to continue on breakthrough research and discovery on material separation.

America's Seed Fund, powered by the National Science Foundation, awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses to transform scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact.

Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology are able to receive up to $1.75 million in support of research and development tailored towards commercial success.

This seed funding is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research program.

Phoenix Tailings, a Boston-based startup that has developed a process for extracting valuable materials from mineral waste, or mining tailings, has been selected to receive the federal grant to continue its work in waste management.

Using a specialized chemical process, Phoenix Tailings is able to extract the valuable materials from one of the most abundant byproducts of mining tailings; the remnant dust, powder and fine grains after mined material has been milled.

As almost 200 billion tons of waste material is produced and thrown away each year, the prospect of turning mud into money is an appealing and ideal scenario that Phoenix Tailings is spearheading.

More detailed information on Phoenix Tailings can be read at Mining mine waste for technology metals in the May 8 edition of Metal Tech News.


The SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer programs are highly competitive and encourage small domestic businesses to engage in federal research and development with the potential for commercialization.

A precursor to the present SBIR-STTR programs was introduced in the late 1970s when Roland Tibbetts, NSF senior program officer at the time, envisioned a three-phase structure to foster R&D in small, high-tech businesses.

In 1977, the NSF recognized the need for maintaining support for small businesses and instituted the Small Business Innovation Applied to National Needs program within the Engineering Division; and President Ronald Reagan signed a government wide SBIR program into law in 1982.

Over the ensuring four decades, the seed fund driven by the NSF has helped startups and small businesses transform their ideas into marketable products and services.

Receiving this grant is a phenomenal benchmark for the future of Phoenix Tailings, with the continual growth of recovered waste mineral technology and the present success of a sustainable and carbon-free alternative for mineral waste, its exciting to see what further technologies will come in this critical industry.


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