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Princeton NuEnergy Wins the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR Phase II Fund

Awardee Story Princeton NuEnergy Wins the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR Phase II Fund
Date: Jul 01, 2021

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Princeton NuEnergy ("PNE") is awarded a $1.15 million SBIR Phase II award from the DOE. This is the testimony to PNE's phenomenal growth over the past two years with the funding from DOE SBIR Phase I award, which was $250k and among the highest in the vehicle technology category. PNE's patented Novel Plasma Based Direct Li-ion Battery Recycling process produces high-quality cathode active materials from spent lithium-ion batteries ("LIBs"). It utilizes a direct separation, purification, and regeneration of cathode materials for aged LIBs using a novel plasma-assisted process.

The U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE") 's mission is to ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. DOE funds area includes clean technology, renewables, efficiency, transportation, power grids, fossil fuels, etc. Among these funds, the DOE SBIR program helps competent small businesses conduct R&D through the form of government-sponsored grants and does not take any equity from these small businesses.

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have emerged as the battery of choice for rapidly growing markets in electric vehicles (EVs) and grid electricity storage, which stimulates a great demand for the supply of virgin materials. Recycling spent batteries is an essential step in addressing stringent environmental regulations and resource conservation. Recycling can reduce the adverse environmental and social-economical effects from mining extractions for virgin metals, raw material transportation, and energy consumption. Moreover, recycling can reduce fluctuations in the cost and support a steady supply of raw material.

Currently, industrial recycling of lithium-ion batteries relies on traditional hydrometallurgical or pyrometallurgical methods, followed by acidic leaching or alkaline treatment processes to recycle valuable elements such as Li, Ni, and Co. These processes lead to extensive energy consumption, excessive chemical waste generation, and expensive operating costs.

Compared to conventional methods, PNE's technology is a first-in-class innovation that can directly regenerate the cathode and anode materials without completely destroying the compounds and also significantly reduces energy and chemical consumption. It will also considerably shorten recycling time and costs and produce high-performance battery materials.

In winning the DOE's SBIR Phase II award, PNE aims to complete major technical milestones, including guaranteeing the technological superiority of the invention for regenerating cathode materials and providing critical criteria for achieving a successful transfer of this technology from the laboratory to the commercial market.
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