Dead Lithium Batteries Could Undergo Unique Recycling Process

Purdue University



Illustration provided by Linda Wang

American Resources Corp. and Purdue University have teamed to advance an environmentally safer method that recycles rare-earth metals to advance clean energy electronic technologies used in hard disk drives, electric vehicles, wind turbines and other electronics.

American Resources Corp., a socially responsible supplier of high-quality raw materials, announced Thursday (May 6) an expansion of its existing sponsored research program with Purdue University.

The agreement will focus on advancing the purification of critical and rare-earth elements ("REEs"). The partnership builds on a previous agreement to advance a Purdue-developed technology to refine rare-earth elements purification technology to recycle permanent magnets and lithium-ion batteries pulled from sources such as hard disk drives, electric vehicles and wind turbines.

The technology was developed in the laboratory of Linda Wang, Purdue's Maxine Spencer Nichols Professor of Chemical Engineering. Wang's technology was published in Journal Green Chemistry in 2020 and elsewhere.

Given the early success of its previously announced agreement, American Resources entered into the expanded agreement with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to further refine the LAD chromatography process and technology to include the recycling, reprocessing and purification of critical rare-earth elements from lithium-ion batteries and coal waste and byproducts. The new agreement builds on the acquisition of certain licenses associated with the Purdue-developed technology to separate and purify rare-earth elements using ligand assisted displacement ("LAD") chromatography, a technology specific to the recycling of permanent magnets for rare-earth elements.

"Purdue has been a fantastic, innovative and commercially driven partner to work with," said Mark Jensen, American Resources CEO. "The rare-earth element purification technology that we are commercializing is extremely exciting, and we are both on the same page in terms of getting it to the market as efficiently as possible. Given the early success of our existing research program, it made sense to expand the program in short order to include the feedstocks that we are most focused on, such as lithium-ion batteries and coal-based waste and byproducts. Collectively, our process chain of technology and feedstocks enables us to help restore the domestic supply chain of these critical materials in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly and beneficial ways ever developed. We believe this is where the U.S. needs to drive innovation and compete with China in this market. The team at Purdue is an important part of this, and we look forward to pushing aggressively forward with commercialization of the technology and showcasing the low cost and environmentally sensitive technology."

Rare-earth elements include the 15 elements in the lanthanide series plus scandium (Sc) and yttrium (Y). They are essential ingredients for magnets, metal alloys, polishing powders, catalysts, ceramics and phosphors, which are important for high technology and clean energy applications. The global REE market is approximately $4 billion annually and is growing at 8% per year.

American Resources began staffing up to develop a supply chain and aftermarket for certain end-of-life products with several partners to source waste permanent magnets and lithium-ion batteries specific to this portion of its feedstocks and rare-earth elements "Capture - Process - Purify" process chain. These end-of-life products would include electric/hybrid vehicles, e-bikes, wind turbines, NMR machines, MRI machines and certain industrial motors.

The company continues to focus on running efficient streamlined operations in being a supplier of raw materials to the infrastructure and electrification marketplace in the most sustainable of ways. By operating with low or no legacy costs and having one of the largest and most innovative growth pipelines in the industry, American Resources works to maximize value for its investors by positioning its large asset base to fit an economy, while being able to scale its operations to meet the growth of the markets it serves.

EurekAlert!, the online, global news service operated by AAAS, the science society: