American Resources Corporation told investors that its ReElement Technologies division has achieved ultra-high pure (greater than 99.9%) lithium from its exclusively licensed and patented multi-modal chromatography technology that was developed in partnership with Purdue University.
The company said ReElement is focused on selling its high-purity lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) to the domestic battery manufacturing industry to help satisfy the need for domestically supplied battery materials while aligning with the clean vehicle tax credit as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Lithium refining in a cost-effective and environmentally sensitive manner is the key to the domestic auto and electrification industry,” ReElement Technologies chief operating officer Jeff Peterson said in a statement. “We applaud our team for exceeding our initial target results in producing ultra-high purity, battery-grade lithium from end-of-life batteries utilizing our revolutionary and patented technology.”
The company explained that chromatography is an efficient continuous closed loop, column-based, modular system that is able to operate at multiple stages and recover high-value components. It produces very little waste, making it environmentally benign and much easier to permit relative to conventional refining methods.
Peterson noted that the results the company has achieved and the scalability it has showcased is paramount for the high-growth battery industry. “Our technology is unique in that we can operate standalone facilities, co-locate with battery manufacturers to process manufacturing waste or co-locate at mining operations to process spodumene to produce ultra-high purity lithium in either a carbonate or hydroxide form, and at a substantially lower economic and environmental cost than conventional chemical processing,” he added.
With growing attention on the fragile supplies of battery minerals such as lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese, American Resources said it is focused on the separation and purification of these elements from several sources which include:
- End-of-life batteries of varying chemistries (NMC and LFP);
- Black mass produced by third parties;
- Battery manufacturing waste/scrap;
- Spodumene mineral ore.
The company noted that lithium, given its historic price, has typically not been recovered in the recycling process of lithium-ion batteries. However, with the projected growth of electric vehicle manufacturing and larger-scale battery storage, it said the demand for lithium is expected to double over the next three years and increase tenfold over the next decade.
Even though supply growth for lithium is expected to nearly triple by 2025 to approximately 1.5 million metric tons per annum, American Resources said it is widely believed that demand will largely outweigh projected supply with global reserves estimated at only 80 million tons. The current market price for lithium carbonate per metric ton is currently greater than $70,000, it added.
American Resources said ReElement has the capacity to process approximately 137,500 kilograms per year of battery materials to produce ultra-high pure battery minerals or compounds with its initial commercial battery production train at its first facility in Noblesville, Indiana.