The Elements of Innovation Discovered

Missouri sparks battery materials collab

Metal Tech News - May 15, 2024

Missouri University of Science and Technology, US Strategic Metals; lithium-ion battery precursor cathode active material research.

Pioneering a transformative shift in the American battery landscape, US Strategic Metals joins forces with Missouri University of Science and Technology to advance research on precursor cathode active material, leveraging the Show Me State's abundant natural resources and cutting-edge facilities in green innovation.

Transforming from humble origins as a mine site cleanup and reclamation company, US Strategic Metals (USSM) has quickly grown into a critical domestic energy metals supplier.

Under the agreement, USSM will provide training for Missouri S&T personnel post-doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students on the use of USSM's state-of-the-art extraction facilities to produce precursor cathode active material (pCAM).

Evident in its name, pCAM is the step before (raw components) cathode active materials, which comprises cobalt, nickel, and other critical elements that make up the primary parts of lithium-ion batteries. Most pCAM is currently produced outside the United States.

"Precursor cathode active material or pCAM production is the missing link in the U.S. battery supply chain and with this collaboration with Missouri S&T and the support of Missouri DED (Department of Economic Development) we will continue to be on the front lines of the solution," said US Strategic Metals CEO Stacy Hastie.

Missouri's unique combination of abundant natural resources, top-tier research institutions, and robust commitment to green innovation positions it as an ideal hub for pioneering advancements in domestic battery material production.

The training to be offered by USSM will include instruction on laboratory procedures the company has already begun implementing during its own ongoing pCAM test program at its bench and pilot scale facilities.

In exchange, Missouri S&T will work with USSM to help optimize the solvent extraction process to effectively recover pure salts of these battery elements and develop a laboratory process to synthesize these precursor materials.

USSM hopes this will aid it in its progress toward the completion of the future commercial-scale plant in Fredericktown, Missouri.

"Missouri S&T is excited to be working with USSM on this project because USSM's expertise saves us time and its facilities allows us to fulfill our obligations on this project without millions of dollars in new equipment," said Union Pacific/Rocky Mountain Professor of Mining Engineering, Department of Mining & Explosives Engineering, Kwame Awuah-Offei.

While USSM will support Missouri and its collegiate programs, this agreement is, in turn, supported by a state-funded initiative to develop Missouri's potential as a national leader in the mining and refining of critical minerals essential to its own economic and manufacturing growth and the wider battery technology space in general.

Given its continued announcements in research and development, including the construction of a $53.4 million Protoplex for labs and shops to facilitate innovation, $850,000 in grants from EPA for pollution research, and nearly $2 million in funding for other research through unconventional means of recovering critical minerals and metals, Missouri S&T is rapidly shaping itself into a beacon of innovation, and epicenter of learning for a sustainable future.

 

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