When Amanda Hall (HBSc 1996) started working in the oil and gas sector in Alberta more than 15 years ago, she resolved to dig into the messy bits.
“I remember saying to myself, I want to get neck-deep in the problems so I can be part of the solutions in the energy sector,” says Hall. That determination often saw the geophysicist ask questions the industry wasn’t prepared to ask itself — often to the dismay of her colleagues.
“I remember saying, ‘hey, you’re not really considering renewables or EV forecasting.’ People around the room turned and looked at me like, ‘what the hell did you just say?’”
Undeterred by what she saw as “wilful blindness” about the accelerating pace of electric vehicle technology and renewables, Hall started to think about how she could get involved. “I knew that the future was not going to be like the past and I wanted to leverage it.”
She quit her job with a big oil and gas producer and, in 2018, founded Summit Nanotech, which has developed a more sustainable method of extracting lithium — “we’re an upgrader,” explains Hall. “We get raw product, update it to battery grade, then give it back to the customer and they sell it to the market.”
Summit’s technology reduces climate pollution, minimizes the use of fresh water and chemicals, and cuts waste by 90 per cent compared to traditional methods. The company has just initiated its first pilot project in Chile, the first step in commercialization. Hall’s idea — and her commitment to bringing it to market — saw her win the 2021 Women in Cleantech Challenge.
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