Member Spotlight: Primet Precision Materials

Primet Precision Materials, Inc. is an advanced materials company
 based in Ithaca, New York whose innovative technologies are aimed at economically producing industrial quantities of materials sized from the micron scale to the nano scale. The primary focus of the company is on electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries, particularly for electric transportation. Primet believes their technology can dramatically transform that industry.

According to Primet CEO Larry Thomas: “The cost associated with traditional manufacturing processes for electrode materials needed for lithium-ion batteries has been holding back electric vehicles since their introduction to the market. High cost and inefficient manufacturing naturally translates to higher costs to consumers. Primet’s process lowers that cost barrier. It will help to put electric vehicles on the same playing field as traditional vehicles from a price standpoint. That’s a game changer.”

Primet has developed and patented a process it calls NanoScission®, which is a low-cost and simple way to convert bulk raw materials into engineered nanoparticles.  The process employs a shear field across a fluid, which is used to fracture small particles along low-energy planes.  Primet’s ability to tailor particle characteristics (for example spheres vs. platelets) turns out to have many advantages as the building blocks for battery cathode coating processes

A key issue facing lithium-ion battery manufacturers is the reproducibility and uniformity of cathode materials in their cells.  This dramatically affects overall performance and, in particular, aging rates and safety.  Battery developers continue to experiment with alternative chemistries and exotic processes looking for a magic bullet to solve their problems.  Against this background, they are constantly faced with an overall imperative to dramatically lower costs.

Primet believes that its NanoScission process is applicable to most of the cathode materials vying for market share and can produce them in industrial quantities with unprecedented uniformity and performance, and at a cost that is dramatically lower than that of conventional methods.  Primet’s process technology can reduce both capital and operating costs for electrode material production by as much as 85% and can use lower-cost raw materials than the industry uses today.  As the number of electric vehicles ramps up into the millions over the next several years, these cost reductions in battery technology can result in savings for American consumers measured in billions of dollars.

Primet has established a pilot manufacturing capability that has allowed commercial and government partners to verify the performance, batch-to-batch consistency, and scalability of their process.  The company is now actively pursuing the licensing of its technology to manufacturers throughout the industry.  According to Primet, installing a production line in an existing battery electrode facility would require low capital equipment expenditures that would pay for themselves in less than two years.  The company believes that battery manufacturers do not need to keep inventing new technologies to solve their problems.  With NanoScission® technology, they can produce their current products at a large scale, at a much lower cost, and with much higher performance.

Primet represents an unfolding New York success story for which support from the State has played an instrumental role.  Early on, a grant from the Empire State Development Corporation was a key milestone for the company.   As a founding member of NY-BEST, Primet was a recipient of an R&D grant along with Cornell University and was able to secure financing for capital equipment through Tompkins County Area Development.  The company also received an equity investment from the New York Small Business Technology Investment Fund.  Primet has been the recipient of a series of research contracts with NYSERDA for development of next-generation, high-voltage electrode materials for lithium ion batteries.  Their most recent award also included additional funding from NY-BEST.  In addition, the company has benefited from being located in an Empire Zone.

Primet is an exemplary New York corporate citizen, preferring NY-based service providers and suppliers.  The company’s largest vendors include Cameron Manufacturing & Design (Elmira); Harter Secrest & Emery (Rochester); Cornell University Center for Materials Research (Ithaca); IMR Test Labs (Ithaca).  Primet partners with the US DOE’s Energy Frontier Research Centers at Cornell and Binghamton Universities and has hired interns, graduates and post-grads from both.

Primet’s NanoScission process technology relies on a broad portfolio of globally-filed and issued patents, as well as extensive trade secret knowledge on desirable particle features and the processes and equipment required to create them. The company is continuing to advance its technology through extensive product and process development.  Primet’s process has been recognized by industry experts, US government laboratories, and the world’s leading battery producers to be a dramatic improvement over conventional technology for the production of advanced materials.

Low cost is often associated with low performance.  New York’s Primet Precision Materials is a dynamic young company that appears to have broken that mold.

More information about Primet is available on the company website.