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Bio-inspired Lixiviants for Selective Extraction of Valuable Metals from Municipal Solid Waste Incinerator Ash

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: ARPA-E
Contract: DE-AR0001398
Agency Tracking Number: 1954-1658
Amount: $242,046.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: M
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001954
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-03-03
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-06-02
Small Business Information
527 Garden St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
United States
DUNS: 117208890
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Michael Wyrsta
 (805) 708-0708
Business Contact
 Michael Wyrsta
Phone: (805) 708-0708
Research Institution

Metals such as rare earths, copper, cobalt, and nickel continue to be critical to the energy
industry and advanced technology applications. Traditional mining of these elements is
predominantly located in far-flung regions of the world. MSWI ashes represent a unique
opportunity as a source for some of these metals here in the U.S. The current unit cost of metal
extraction and refinement, particularly from waste minerals, is too high from environmental,
capital-equipment, and reagent bases. Reducing each of these limitations and refining mineral
waste such as MSWI ash will have a tremendous impact on metals’ domestic production. A
technical solution to these problems will increase the domestic supply of metals, reduce foreign
reliance for supply, reduce consumer cost of downstream power and new technology devices, and
increase the overall competitiveness of the U.S. We propose to use bio-inspired molecules,
complemented by conventional chemical reagents to reduce reagent costs, the environmental
burden of using such reagents, and the capital equipment needed to produce metals from MSWI
ash. Simultaneously, this will introduce step-change capabilities in metal-selective extraction and
refinement from MSWI ash. Preliminary analysis of MSWI ash shows modest amounts of valuable
elements such as copper, manganese, zinc, and chrome. The proposed work constitutes molecule
and formulation development, leaching experiments, and analytical work to determine the best
conditions and lixiviants to leach valuable metals from MSWI ashes effectively. We will compare
traditional chemical systems to our bio-inspired lixiviants and the total production cost of refined

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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