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SBIR Phase I: Point-Of-Use Nano-Mosaic Filter Technology for Lithium

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2045379
Agency Tracking Number: 2045379
Amount: $256,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: EN
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-08-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-07-31
Small Business Information
United States
DUNS: 117531043
HUBZone Owned: Yes
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Sheeba Dawood
 (336) 285-2860
Business Contact
 Sheeba Dawood
Phone: (336) 285-2860
Research Institution

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project is in the development of an efficient, rapid, and cost-effective point-of use technology to recover lithium from brine resources. Current brine operations are capital intensive and incur significant lead time (2 years) with low recovery (30%) for producing high-grade lithium. The proposed technology targets two-fold reduction in operation cost, high lithium recovery (90%), and reducing extraction time from 2 years to less than 24 hours. Contributing to the world-wide Total Addressable Market (TAM) of ~$992 billion, this technology will impact the global lithium market, growing at an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.9% for energy storage, electronic bikes, electrification of tools, and other battery-intense applications. This small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 project proposes to develop a point-of-use nanomembrane filter for lithium extraction from non-traditional water resources. The proposed filter utilizes a robust, porous, and surface charged tailored sorbent of a novel coordination polymer framework prepared from an abundant natural polyphenol. The sorbents possess molecular sieving ability, tailorable pore size up to the pore dimension <2 nm, and functional coordination sites for high binding affinity for lithium ions. The novelty of the innovation over current technologies (e.g., solar evaporation and ion-exchange techniques) is nano-based filter technology with selective affinity for lithium, enabling rapid and efficient extraction and recovery of lithium. The research objective is to demonstrate the proof-of-concept for recovery within 24 hours as either lithium chloride or lithium carbonate with targeted recovery efficiency and conversion >90% in a subsequent step. The project includes: (1) Fabricating the membrane from the molecular sieves, (2) evaluating the lithium sieving performance, recovery, and conversion, and (3) fabricating a prototype filter unit. These developments will directly address current limitations in extraction time and efficiency, cost, recovery efficiency of lithium, and environmental impact of solar evaporation, ion-exchange and solvent extraction, and osmosis membrane systems. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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

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