Aqua Metals Inc., McCarran, Nevada, says it has filed a provisional patent for recovering high-value metals from recycled lithium-ion batteries, adding that early phase testing shows promise for applying AquaRefining methodology that originally was developed to plate ultra-high purity lead from lead-acid batteries. This testing shows the technology can be used to plate the metals found in lithium-ion batteries, such as cobalt, nickel, manganese and lithium.
The provisional patent allows up to one year for the compay to gather data in support of a formal submission of the patent.
"Electric vehicles and clean energy storage will be key to the transition from our dependence on fossil fuels,” says Steve Cotton, president and CEO of Aqua Metals, says in a news release about the provisional patent. “This will result in millions of spent lithium-ion batteries with currently no sustainable method for recycling. We believe that expanding our patented AquaRefining hydrometallurgical approach to recycling the high-value metals of lithium-ion batteries is a smart, long-term strategy for Aqua Metals and in the best interest of our shareholders. As we designate part of our research and development budget to expand the potential of our IP, we remain squarely focused on commercializing our lead recycling business and anticipate our first licensing deal in the near future.”
Earlier this month, Aqua Metals announced that it invested $2 million, paid in Aqua Metals stock shares, for a 10 percent ownership stake in LiNiCo Corp., which it describes in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing and a press release as a Nevada-based company focused on closed-loop lithium-ion battery recycling.
Aqua Metals says the move is part of its strategy “to strengthen growth by potentially applying AquaRefining intellectual property to lithium-ion battery recycling while [also] meeting its lead recycling commercial guidance.”
According to Grand View Research, the global lithium-ion battery market was valued at $32.9 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent from 2020 to 2027, reaching $87.5 billion. That growth will be fueled by increasing demand for lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles and grid storage as they offer high-energy density solutions and lightweight.