SBIR Phase I: Novel Apparatus for Producing High-Purity Lithium Metal
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
The Electrosynthesis Company, Inc.
72 Ward Road, Lancaster, NY, 14086-9779
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will determine feasibility of using new technology to produce high purity lithium metal. The existing energy-intensive production method operates at 460C, has changed little in over 100 years and requires over 35 kWh/kg of lithium metal. The purity of the product is very dependent on the feed material with high purity lithium produced via a further high-temperature distillation step. A current trend returning to using lithium metal to produce high energy batteries will increase demand for high-purity lithium. If successful, the proposed novel electrolyzer will produce higher quality lithium metal at lower processing temperatures and power consumption. This project will test and select suitable components for the electolyzer and demonstrate their use for high purity lithium production. The broader/commercial impacts of this research are a production method capable of producing large quantities of high-purity battery-grade lithium metal. The requirement for energy storage for transportation and utility applications has generated a large amount of research into high energy density batteries of which protected or sealed lithium metal batteries are being developed. The move to lithium metal batteries will greatly improve the viability and cost effectiveness of a range of energy based technologies, and will have a direct impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Current lithium metal production methods would not be able to meet these demands which would impede installation of these batteries. Furthermore the current process would not be able to produce the required purity of product without energy intensive distillations.
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