Critical Material Supply from Nontraditional Sources

NUMiX Materials develops, produces, and deploys efficient, geomimetic materials for harvesting critical metals from nontraditional sources. Its products and process recover salable metals while purifying water, eliminating contamination, and reducing water treatment waste.


Critical Need for the Technology

In water, mobile metal ions like copper, silver, cobalt, and nickel cause damage to human health and the environment. In industrial processes involving these ions, significant waste is generated while treating water to remove them prior to discharge.

Meanwhile electronics, electric vehicles, and batteries rely on these same metals as raw materials. The United States rely on imports of the same metals for production of these technologies; in fact, several have been placed on the ‘critical minerals’ list because of the high import reliance and high domestic need.

Harvesting these metals from nontraditional sources satisfies two important needs simultaneously. First, it establishes a domestic supply of currently-imported critical minerals. Second, it remediates problematic water streams more quickly and with less residual waste than competing processes.


  • Ion exchange beads: established firms such as DuPont, Purolite, Rohm & Hass, as well as early stage companies such as Periodic Products provide polymer-based ion exchange for use in columns with regeneration.
  • Adsorbents: established firms such as Lanxess provide adsorbents like granular ferric oxide and zero valent iron.
  • Do nothing: in some geographies, the incumbent approach is to avoid treating metal-bearing water at all.

Potential Markets

Treatment market: mining, leach liquor purification, primary metal treatment (pickling), electroplating, semiconductor manufacturing, battery recycling, hazardous site remediation, water reuse.

Raw material markets: batteries, high-temperature alloys, jewelry, electric vehicles, semiconductor manufacturing.

Key Innovation

NUMiX Materials harvests critical minerals from contaminated water using geomimetic sorbents.

Meltem Urgun-Demirtas, Argonne Primary Scientist

Meltem Urgun-Demirtas is the principal investigator working with NUMiX Materials on the project. She leads the Bioprocesses and Reactive Separations Group in the Applied Materials Division at Argonne National Laboratory. Her group focuses on re-engineering of plant flow diagram to develop innovative technologies for industrial applications as well as development and application of intensified reactor and separation technologies for bioenergy and bioproducts production, water treatment, and manufacturing.

R & D Status of Project

NUMiX Materials has developed proprietary materials and is actively seeking commercial opportunities to deploy the technology in a pilot setting as it continues to scale up production capabilities.

Team Overview

Katie Kollhoff Mouat, CEO

The diverse NUMiX Materials team, including Kollhoff, consists of five individuals with skills in business strategy, operations, and engineering with backgrounds in water treatment, environmental health and safety, chemical and mechanical engineering, materials science and law.

Technology Profile

Status: TRL 4 – The technology has been demonstrated in laboratory scale.
Primary industry: Water & Mining
Category:  sustainability, critical minerals, water, supply chain

Estimated annual revenue: N/A
Employs: 2.5
Social challenge:  clean water, domestic critical minerals
R&D commercial collaborator: N/A