May 2020
Vol 7 | Issue 304

Q&A with Nico Cuevas of Urbix

CEO and Co-founder

Principal Series:

22% of a Lithium Ion Battery of an Electric Vehicle is made up of purified and processed graphite. USA imports 100% of its graphite and 90%+ of the purified graphite comes from China.

With at least 8 Gigafactories (Big Battery Makers) coming online in the US by 2023, the foreign dependency of this critical mineral has now become a matter of national and economic security.

Urbix is the only US company able to mitigate the Chinese dominance and control of purified graphite which is essential for the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries.

Urbix has developed an innovative, cost effective, green, and faster graphite purification process. Graphite is a key material in the production of batteries for electric vehicles. Urbix’s purification technology is the only one to receive US Department of Energy funding for development of Nuclear Grade Feedstock for Next Gen IV Reactors.

Graphite was recently designated a Critical Mineral by the Department of the Interior due to its supply chain vulnerability. Currently, the US imports 100% of its graphite. With China dominating the mining and processing of graphite globally it has now become necessary for the USA and the western world to diversify graphite supply and explore new processing technologies to mitigate Chinese dependency.

Standard graphite refining techniques are limited to dangerous Hydrofluoric Acid Pools and very expensive/energy intense high temperature ovens. The Urbix methodology offers the lowest CAPEX and OPEX in the market. Urbix is the only technology company to have completed a grant with Oakridge National Laboratories and is now under consideration for a further $2 million grant from that source.

Recognizing the near irreversible damage caused by antiquated graphite refinement methods, URBIX accepted the challenge of finding new ways to more effectively provide natural graphite products.
Our certified and award-winning proprietary cleantech graphite purification methodology offers both a more efficient and less expensive option than the two industry alternatives.

Our proprietary low-temperature, non-oxidative purification technology was designed on a compact footprint with the ability to be set up in situ as required.

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What is your Competitive Advantage?

Urbix is a processor, not a mine. Urbix has the ability to select from different sources of graphite from different mines to best serve a wide array of industries. In addition, as automotive companies become increasingly aware of the provenance and processing techniques of the raw materials for EV Batteries, environmentally friendly, localized, and low-cost processing is of special interest. Urbix is the ONLY graphite purification technology to receive DOE Funding utilizing an environmentally friendly, higher yield, and low-cost method. Our start to finish method when compared to the Chinese method (Status Quo) has: yields of 75% vs 30%; half the cost; 260kwh/ton vs 50,000kwh/ton of energy footprint; does not use Hydrofluoric acid or high-temperature oven; and is American!

Can your method be used on other minerals?

Yes, Urbix's next step is to process Rare Earth Elements. Urbix is in talks with a large defense contractor to finish setting up a pre-pilot processing line for Rare Earth Elements. In the processing pipeline Urbix has gold, silver, and copper.

How is COVID-19 Impact your business?

COVID-19 has made it evident that the USA is beholden to foreign sources for the most basic of products. The US is taking Action with special programs through their Departments to secure the supply chain of critical goods/minerals. Urbix is participating in this initiatives including a co-joint application of a DOE Industry Funding Opportunity with Oak Ridge National Lab for the development of Nuclear Fuel Cells.

Nico Cuevas of Urbix

Nico Cuevas is CEO and co-founder. An Engineering Management Graduate who has worked on mining EPCM projects totaling over $6 billion across five countries in three continents. Cofounded Urbix with Adam Small and two friends with a vision to develop an innovative, eco friendly, low cost mineral processing technology to mitigate the USA’s foreign dependency of these critical elements. The domestic processing capability of this minerals are essential to the USA’s National and Economic Security. Contact Nico: