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Michael C. Anderson
July 3, 2023
3 Min Read
Co-Founders Megan O'Connor, PhD. (4th from left) & Chad Vecitis, PhD. (second from right) and the Nth Cycle team.Image courtesy of Nth Cycle
Nth Cycle, a critical metals extraction and recycling startup, has announced the commissioning of a 21,000-square-foot refining facility in Fairfield, OH.
At the heart of the upcoming facility lies Nth Cycle's groundbreaking electro-extraction technology. This innovative approach enables the recovery of valuable metals from various sources such as metal scrap, electronic waste, untapped mining resources, and refinery waste. into critical metal products including nickel and cobalt through its premium Mixed Hydroxide Precipitate (MHP) product.
Nth Cycle's MHP, produced from its patented electro-extraction processor named “the OYSTER,” yields unprecedented metal and mineral purity with the highest concentration of nickel hydroxide and cobalt hydroxide available.
First domestic production of MHP in the US
Historically, the United States has lacked domestic production of MHP, resulting in battery manufacturers depending on unreliable supply and questionable working conditions from unstable countries. Nth Cycle's MHP initiative addresses this issue by eliminating the risk for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) while delivering a product with exceptional composition—over 90% nickel and cobalt, in contrast to the typical 30-40% nickel and 1-6% cobalt found in the currently sourced product (according to Fastmarkets MHP Index).
Moreover, Nth Cycle's refining process has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90% compared to traditional mining methods. This approach aligns with the requirements of the Inflation Reduction Act, fulfilling domestic sourcing and recycled content compliance obligations. Furthermore, Nth Cycle establishes a new and verifiable standard for the market with its MHP product, which is vital considering the lack of established criteria for purity and concentration of essential elements in the industry. “As the world becomes increasingly reliant on the critical metals that are the backbone of an electrified economy, it's clear the sourcing of those materials must be as clean and efficient as the future we imagine,” said Megan O'Connor, co-founder and CEO of Nth Cycle. “A clean, unfettered and cost-efficient supply chain of Nickel and Cobalt, or MHP, not only accelerates our path to that future, but it establishes the U.S. as a global leader in that movement.”
An overview of electro-extraction
As Battery Technology explained in our October 2022 feature on the company, Nth Cycle can take disassembled consumer electronics, electric vehicle magnets, and any other e-waste that contains critical minerals as black mass and process it into metal oxides for battery manufacturing at a fraction of the cost and greenhouse gas emissions of current recycling methods, O’Connor said. Moreover, Nth Cycle’s electro-extraction process is modular and can be plugged into existing recycling facilities at a reasonable footprint (< 1,000 sq. ft.), cutting transport costs.
Nth Cycle’s electro-extraction system is based on an electrochemically modified filter press, combining both filtration and electro-extraction into one unit. This allows operating at low voltages and high current efficiencies, significantly reducing energy costs. In addition, the in-situ base production alleviates the need for highly caustic chemicals while reducing waste, potential hazards, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Electro-extraction is a cleaner and more efficient alternative to conventional and dirty pyrometallurgy (or smelting) operations currently deployed by metal scrap recyclers and mining companies. Because Nth Cycle's OYSTER system is also modular, it enables co-locating at customer sites, eliminating the need to emit more emissions to transport the metal waste or low-grade ore for refining. This will allow the company or OEM to manage its own waste and return the advanced material directly to the manufacturing line.
“Nth is poised to make history as the first US-based minerals and metal manufacturer, a key requirement for domestic production through the Inflation Reduction Act. This is great news for American industry, the electric vehicle revolution, energy storage supply chain and the creation of new jobs,” Elemental founder and CEO, Dawn Lippert stated. “We're thrilled to be backing Nth Cycle for a second time and to contribute to its next phase of growth.”
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