In a press release, the British Columbia-based company indicated that the granting of the patent constitutes a milestone as it provides legal protection of its flagship technology.
“When developing this technology, we looked at current methods of recycling waste from lithium-ion batteries and discovered high heat smelting to be the primary method,” said Norm Chow, inventor of the company’s technology, in the media brief. “Because active cathode materials are oxides, the first thing that came to mind was the comparison to steelmaking. Since smelting iron ore in steelmaking generates a considerable amount of CO2, we were compelled to develop an alternative process with a sustainable focus. During research development, we applied Near Net Shape manufacturing principles with the goal of efficiently recycling cathode material and generating products as close to the final form as possible, with minimum processing steps.”
In Chow’s view, the granting of the U.S. Patent confirms that his firm’s research is both novel and inventive.
Comparing traditional mining for lithium with the company’s technology, the executive highlighted major differences such as the fact that the extraction of all cathode metals is done from lithium-ion batteries as opposed to having to mine different ores and go through the processes of smelting and refining with solvent extraction and electrowinning, re-dissolving the metals with acid and crystallizing them to make metal sulfates. The new method, he said, generates base metal oxides and lithium carbonate with a stoichiometric make-up of metals, ready for battery manufacturers to utilize.
“Instead of relying on acquiring and developing mines in high-risk jurisdictions to supply the growing demand for battery materials, American Manganese aims to have its patented urban mining technology provide a sustainable and geopolitically friendly supply of battery materials,” Chow said.