RENO, Nev. (KOLO) – Nevada is one of a dozen states getting a chunk of $2.8 billion dollars in federal grant money to expand domestic production of electric vehicle batteries.
Reno-based American Battery Technology Company (ABTC) received almost $58 million to build and operate a first-of-its-kind facility to manufacture battery-grade lithium hydroxide from unconventional sedimentary resources.
“About half of the lithium products are made from hard rocks that are found mostly in west Australia and the other half is made from dissolved lithium and brines that are mostly in South America,” said ABTC CEO, Ryan Melsert.
According to Melsert, the USA has a limited amount of these materials, “and that’s one of the reasons why there’s nearly zero manufacturers of lithium in the U.S today,” he said.
In an effort to expand our resources, and help the country become a global competitor in the industry, the company has been exploring more than 10,000 acres of land near Tonopah and developed new technology that would extract battery-grade lithium hydroxide from Nevada-based claystone deposits.
“We’re excited that the type of process we developed has a lower environmental impact than many of the other technologies you see in the field.”
Melsert told KOLO 8 News that their process is low cost, has no operations at high temperatures, and uses less water and fewer chemical agents.
The ABTC has an educational partnership with the Nevada Center for Applied Research (NCAR) at the University of Nevada Reno (UNR).
“Basically one of the fastest-growing companies here at the applied research facility,” said Carlos Cardillo, Executive Director of Corporate Partnerships at UNR.
The grant funding will also lead to the creation of 150 new skilled regional jobs, with potential for more, and help develop the next generation of diverse scientists and engineers for this critical new industry in Nevada and the nation.
“I think that the amount of R&D and activity that they will generate, including the need for additional workforce is gonna impact directly the university, the region and the state of Nevada,” said Cardillo.
The facility will be built in Tonopah and is expected to be a multi-year project.
In the next three to six months, ABTC will be opening a Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Plant. The facility will separate and recover critical materials from end-of-life batteries and purify the products to meet battery grade material specifications.
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