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UNR Materials Engineering Professor Mano Misra and Team Begin Work to Develop an Environmentally Sensitive Lithium Extraction Process

Mano Misra, Pengbo Chu and Pradeep Menezes head up a $4.5 million, 3-year project with ABTC. Misra, along with Mechanical Engineering Professor Pradeep Menezes and Mining and Metallurgical Engineering Professor Pengbo Chu, are working with American Battery Technology Company (ABTC) to develop a proprietary, low-environmental-impact process that ultimately would be employed to extract 5,000 tons of lithium hydroxide yearly from a commercial facility in Nevada’s Smoky Valley, near Tonopah. The project involves characterization, process engineering and modeling to optimize a lithium extraction process that needs less water and less energy, and will produce less waste.

“We have to develop a process that is environmentally acceptable and energy efficient,” Misra said.

Misra and graduate students have developed a new, low-temperature, alkaline salt roasting process to extract lithium from lithium-bearing clays as well as from difficult-to-process hectorites (a relatively rare, naturally occurring clay.) They currently are in the process of optimizing the technology.

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