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The Energy and Cost-efficient E-waste recovery project for rare-earths and precious metals

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0019871
Agency Tracking Number: 245834
Amount: $200,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 07d
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001941
Timeline
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2019-07-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-03-31
Small Business Information
1 S Market Street, Suite 1715, San Jose, CA, 95113-1780
DUNS: 080159595
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Y
Principal Investigator
 Tedd Lister
 (208) 526-4320
 tedd.lister@inl.gov
Business Contact
 srini vasan
Phone: (424) 227-1417
Email: mike.socal@quantumventura.com
Research Institution
 Idaho National Laboratory
 Todd Combs
 1955 Fremont Avenue
Idaho Falls, ID, 83402-1510
 (208) 526-0111
 Federally funded R&D center (FFRDC)
Abstract
Idaho National Laboratory (INL), under funding from the Critical Materials Institute, has developed a US patented technology to reclaim valuable metals from waste electronic equipment. The Electrochemical Recycling Electronic Constituents of Value (E-RECOV) method uses an electrochemical cell to efficiently recover the bulk of metals from discarded electronics, leading to more complete recycling of materials while significantly reducing chemical use and waste generation. The process is capable of dissolving the major metals found in electronics and can be used on materials that have been shredded, magnetically separated or milled to a particle size less than one millimeter. E- RECOV technology was selected the winner of the 2016 Techconnect National Innovation award as the most promising project in the early-stage of innovation. Unlike acid leaching, E-RECOV method does not consume acid and continuously regenerates the initial oxidizer at the anode, which supports long-term operation without chemical consumption. E-RECO method is sustainable, safe and environmentally friendly. Processing can be done domestically, which further lessens the environmental impact from exportation. INL’s E-RECOV method reclaims base metals and rare earth elements (“REE’s”) before the precious metals are extracted, reducing impurities. Base metals include zinc, tin, lead, nickel and copper. REEs are lanthanides (elements with atomic numbers 57 to 71) that can be found in a variety of consumer and industrial products such as fluorescent and LED light bulbs, mobile electronics, electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels.Rare earth elements are difficult and expensive to obtain. The U.S. has a limited domestic supply of same which is vulnerable to disruption. No significant REE recycling is currently practiced in the US. Under the SBIR/STTR’s Technology Transfer Opportunity (TTO) opportunity scheme, Quantum Ventura, Inc. is proposing to conduct further research and validation for commercializing the E-RECOV technology, build a viable and cost-effective supply-chain and economic model, and scaling E-RECOV from a working lab model to an economically viable state-of-the-art facility which is capable of supporting current and future industrial production needs.Recovering more metal from waste electronics provides an opportunity to convert an exported and wasteful resource into a valuable domestic commodity. Once fully commercialized, E-RECOV’s metal recycling method will reclaim more high value materials, reduce reagent use and lessen the toxicity of remaining materials compared with current practices for salvage of metals from waste electronics. In the lab model, E-RECOV is proven to be 30% cheaper than conventional recovery technologies. E-RECOV is 30% cheaper than conventional recovery technologies. E-RECOV extracts both precious metals and other metals. In addition, it extracts valuable and nationally critical rare- earth metals that are currently vulnerable to supply disruptions. The supply disruption of rare earth metals, which have a limited supply within the US would be a devastating blow to the US economy.

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

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