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American Battery Technology Initiates Pilot Plant for Lithium Hydroxide Production
American Battery Technology Initiates Pilot Plant for Lithium Hydroxide Production

American Battery Technology Initiates Pilot Plant for Lithium Hydroxide Production

  • 24-Apr-2024 12:30 PM
  • Journalist: Emilia Jackson

American Battery Technology Company (ABTC), an integrated provider of essential battery materials, is advancing its technologies in both primary battery minerals manufacturing and the recycling of lithium-ion batteries. The company has announced the conclusion of construction and the commencement of commissioning for its lithium hydroxide (LiOH) pilot plant, marking a pivotal achievement in the commercialization of its internally-developed processes. This milestone represents a significant step towards accessing an untapped domestic primary lithium resource.

"We're thrilled to have finished constructing this groundbreaking pilot demonstration system," commented ABTC CEO Ryan Melsert. " We have already generated thousands of liters of lithium solution from our claystone feedstock material, demonstrating the effectiveness of our selective lithium liberation technologies."

The completion and activation of this pilot plant allow ABTC to showcase its technologies for extracting lithium from its unconvendtional resource, the Tonopah Lithium Flats Project, through an integrated and ongoing process. This facilitates the production of significant quantities of battery-grade lithium hydroxide, which will be provided to customers for testing and assessment purposes. The construction and operation of this pilot demonstration facility are supported by a competitive grant totaling $4.5 million, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for this initiative.

Prospective customers, including automotive OEMs, battery manufacturers, and cathode manufacturers, will conduct testing and validation on the lithium hydroxide derived from the processing of hundreds of tons of claystone material at this plant. Already, over a dozen prospective strategic customers have toured this pilot facility in recent months. Currently, ABTC is assessing opportunities for the long-term acquisition of its battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

Lithium products are typically derived from conventional sources, such as hard rock spodumene materials found mainly in Western Australia, and lithium-rich brines primarily sourced from South America. However, the United States lacks extensive developed conventional resources of these kinds. To substantially boost U.S. production of battery-grade lithium products, ABTC has been advancing its Tonopah Flats Lithium Project (TFLP), encompassing over 10,000 acres of lithium-bearing claystone resource. This project has been evaluated to possess one of the largest lithium resources in the United States.

ABTC intends to advance this technology by erecting a commercial-scale lithium hydroxide refinery with an annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes directly at its TFLP site. In October 2022, ABTC secured an additional competitive grant from the U.S. DOE, totaling $115 million, to aid in funding the construction of this commercial refinery. For the engineering, procurement, and construction of this large-scale lithium hydroxide refinery, ABTC has enlisted the services of Black & Veatch, one of the leading global construction firms.

At the same time, the company is advancing the commercialization of its groundbreaking technologies for battery recycling operations. It has achieved significant success in producing a substantial inventory of recycled battery metal products at its commercial-scale recycling facility located in Storey County, Nevada. ABTC's proprietary recycling process incorporates an initial strategic de-manufacturing phase, followed by a targeted chemical extraction process, aimed at recovering battery materials with high efficiency, low cost, and minimal environmental impact. These innovative recycling technologies developed by ABTC have garnered numerous competitive corporate awards and government grants. They represent a departure from conventional battery recycling methods, which typically involve high-temperature smelting operations or non-strategic shredding systems.

Introducing pioneering technologies, ABTC's initiatives in battery recycling and commercialization of primary battery metals contribute to the establishment of a domestically-sourced circular supply chain for battery metals.

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