Phoenix Tailings, a US-based critical materials extraction and refining startup, is to receive $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to extract nickel and magnesium from mining waste using what it says is “carbon negative technology”.
These metals are crucial to the production of the batteries that fuel cars, computers and phones using a zero-emissions process, it said.
Phoenix Tailings was one of 16 projects across the country to receive the funding as part of the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resource Recovery program, which aims to develop market-ready technologies that will increase domestic supplies of critical elements required for the clean energy transition.
The funding will support Phoenix Tailings’ work to extract nickel and magnesium from mining tailings through a process that uses carbonisation and recycled carbon dioxide. The process, which is carbon negative, generates high-purity nickel oxide and magnesium carbonate.
Phoenix Tailings, Co-Founder Anthony Balladon (pictured), said: “Think about all the products we use that rely on batteries – from computers to EVs to tactical weapons systems. We depend on the metals that make up these batteries, but rarely think about the environmental impacts of producing them. At Phoenix Tailings we have found a carbon negative way to recover nickel from mining waste, or tailings. We are grateful for the ARPA-E funding to help propel this project forward and ensure there’s a sustainable way to create these metals without producing harmful by-products.”
U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M Granholm, said: “A reliable, sustainable domestic supply chain of critical materials that power longer-lasting batteries and other next-generation energy technologies is crucial to reaching our clean energy future. With these investments, DOE is helping to reinvigorate American manufacturing to reduce our overreliance on adversarial nations and position the nation as a global leader of research and innovation.”