LEMONT, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is developing a new process that could dramatically increase the number of electric vehicle (EV) batteries produced from mined nickel ore. The effort is part of a new partnership with Talon Metals, a U.S. mining company that plans to produce high-grade nickel ore domestically.

Talon’s nickel production has valuable by-product minerals including iron compounds. The company wants to maximize recovery of these by-products instead of sending them to waste piles. The company recognized the potential to use them in production of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathodes (positive electrodes), which are increasingly used in lithium-ion batteries.

Argonne and Talon have entered into a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement. They are developing a process that uses iron sulfides from Talon to synthesize LFP cathodes.

Researchers at Argonne’s Materials Engineering Research Facility (MERF) will develop, optimize and implement an LFP synthesis process and then test the cathodes’ performance in coin battery cells. Talon’s processing experts will collaborate with MERF scientists to calibrate the iron compounds’ purity and composition to enhance cathode production. The team’s objective is to make commercial-quality cathodes.

An effective new process can potentially reduce LFP manufacturing costs by eliminating traditional production steps. It could also improve domestic battery supply chains in a number of ways. There is currently limited domestic LFP cathode production. Argonne could potentially change that by enabling U.S. battery manufacturers and recyclers with a new LFP synthesis technology. Additionally, the process could make U.S. nickel mining and processing more profitable, encouraging more companies to embark on domestic nickel production.

“Nickel concentrates produced from high-grade nickel ore contain four times more iron than nickel,” said Talon CEO Henri van Rooyen. “By using this iron to produce LFP batteries, Talon can supply ingredients for multiple battery technologies, generate a new income stream and reduce waste. And we can substantially increase the number of batteries manufactured from the same ton of rock compared with conventional approaches.”

“Our partnership with Talon Metals seeks to make more efficient use of critical materials in domestic battery supply chains so that the U.S. can rely less on other countries to achieve its clean energy goals,” said Jeff Spangenberger, Argonne’s materials recycling group leader.

DOE's Vehicle Technologies Office provided funding for Argonne’s portion of this project.


Christopher J. Kramer
Head of Media Relations
Argonne National Laboratory
Office: 630.252.5580
Email: media@anl.gov