A critical materials company that is commercializing its primary minerals manufacturing and secondary minerals lithium-ion battery recycling technologies, Reno, Nevada-based American Battery Technology Company (ABTC), was a beneficiary of the recent infrastructure law.
The company will receive a $57 million grant that it says it will use toward building a $115 million commercial-scale lithium manufacturing facility that it will operate along with partners DuPont Water Solutions, Edina, Minnesota, the University of Nevada in Reno and the Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, Illinois. When operational, ABTC will use its process for the manufacturing of battery cathode-grade lithium hydroxide from unconventional Nevada-based lithium-bearing sedimentary resources.
The funding is part of the government’s push to expand the domestic manufacturing of battery-grade lithium hydroxide for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) for electric vehicles (EVs), with a focus on domestic processing of materials and components that are currently imported from foreign countries.
“We are honored and excited to be selected for this investment from the U.S. government to accelerate the construction and commissioning of our first-of-kind commercial-scale lithium refinery to manufacture battery-grade metals from Nevada-based sedimentary claystone resources,” ABTC CEO Ryan Melsert says. “The U.S. has unfortunately been essentially a non-player in the lithium manufacturing industry in recent decades, and while the nation has established large amounts of multi-billion-dollar electrical vehicle and lithium-ion battery factories in recent years, nearly 100 percent of the lithium materials that feed these facilities are imported from foreign countries.”
According to ABTC, most lithium products manufactured globally use conventional brines or hard rock ores as feedstock material and less than 1 percent of these lithium products are sourced from within the U.S. It says the implementation of responsible and sustainable domestic sourcing and processing of the critical materials used to manufacture LIBs will strengthen American supply chains, accelerate battery production to meet increased demand and secure the nation’s economic competitiveness, energy independence and national security.
The grant will speed up the progress of facility commercialization efforts that are already underway. ABTC, along with DuPont and the University of Nevada, Reno, was awarded a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2001 to build and operate a multi-ton per day demonstration-scale system to accelerate commercialization and scale-up of their critical lithium manufacturing technology.
The federal funding announced by the DOE is the first phase of more than $7 billion in total provided by the bipartisan infrastructure law for the battery supply chain.