The Elements of Innovation Discovered

Nevada's 100% domestic lithium hydroxide

Metal Tech News - July 3, 2024

American Battery Technology Company (ABTC), headquartered in Reno, Nevada, has pioneered a first-of-its-kind technology to commercially produce lithium hydroxide – a key element in energy transition batteries – from lithium-bearing claystone deposits in Nevada.

Lithium products are generally manufactured from conventional feedstock resources like hard rock spodumene materials out of Australia or lithium-rich South American brines. While the hunt for local lithium has borne fruit in both these conventional resources across the states, the U.S. hasn't yet developed them.

To help ramp up domestic production to meet rising domestic demands for electric vehicle batteries, ABTC has developed a set of processing technologies specifically for use with the unconventional resource of lithium-bearing claystone that is found throughout Nevada and in record amounts at its more than 10,000-acre Tonopah Flats lithium project.

Home-grown lithium

Domestically extracted, manufactured, and recycled battery metals are critically needed to help meet significant demand from the electric vehicle, stationary storage, and consumer electronics industries.

The lithium-enriched claystone at ABTC's Tonopah Flats project is a form of sedimentary rock primarily consisting of tiny particles cemented into hard rock, comparable to siltstone and mudstone.

ABTC's current facility can produce large enough quantities of LiOH to deliver to automotive, battery cell and cathode manufacturing corporations for qualification and evaluation in the process of negotiating and signing these long-term offtake agreements.

These offtake agreements are critical to the success of facilities under construction for the manufacturing of high-energy-density cathode active material around North America.

A history of award-winning tech

ABTC is an integrated critical battery materials company with both primary battery minerals manufacturing and secondary minerals lithium-ion battery recycling capabilities, having already successfully manufactured a large inventory of recycled battery metal products at its commercial-scale recycling facility in Storey County, Nevada.

The company is lauded for its automated battery recycling technologies, which have won several competitive corporate awards and government grants and are fundamentally more efficient, less wasteful, and safer than conventional methods of battery recycling, which generally utilize smelting and/or shredding systems.

These grant- and award-winning recycling processes utilize an automated robotic deconstruction process followed by a targeted hydrometallurgical extraction train to recover battery materials with high yields, low cost, and a low environmental footprint.

This system is adaptable and can process a variety of sizes, shapes, and internal chemistries of lithium-ion batteries, as well as manufacturing scrap and producing recycled products that include copper, aluminum, steel, a lithium intermediate, and black mass.

The integrated second phase further refines these materials into battery-grade nickel sulfate, cobalt sulfate, manganese sulfate, and lithium hydroxide.

ABTC

ABTC CEO Ryan Melsert shows U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm battery metal products produced by the company's battery recycling operations.

Snowballing success

The success of this new demonstration facility also encouraged the U.S. Department of Energy to provide ABTC with a $57.5 million grant to accelerate the construction and operations of the refinery in Tonopah.

"We are excited to have developed our own technologies for how to manufacture lithium hydroxide from our own U.S.-based unconventional claystone resource, to have constructed this integrated demonstration scale facility with support from the US Department of Energy through a competitive grant where we can process hundreds of tonnes of material, and to now be manufacturing large quantities of lithium hydroxide material to deliver to strategic customers for their qualification and long-term offtake agreement processes," said ABTC CEO Ryan Melsert.

ABTC is also working to construct a commercial-scale refinery utilizing this system design directly at its Tonopah property, expecting to produce 30,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year.

"There are currently multiple corporations constructing multi-billion-dollar facilities for the manufacturing of high energy density cathode active material within North America, and these facilities require large amounts of lithium specifically in the form of battery grade lithium hydroxide as their feed material," Melsert said. "However, there are currently no commercial facilities within the U.S. to manufacture battery grade lithium hydroxide from U.S.-based resources."

 

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