Aqua Metals begins operations at Nevada LIB recycling facility

Using its Li AquaRefining technology to process batteries, the company says it aims to initiate sales of recycled materials in the first quarter of 2023.

A look at machinery inside the new Aqua Metals lithium-ion battery recycling facility located in McCarran, Nevada at the company's Innovation Center
Aqua Metals' sustainable lithium-ion battery recycling facility at its Reno-Tahoe Innovation Center is now operational.
Photo courtesy of Aqua Metals Inc.

Aqua Metals Inc., Reno, Nevada, has completed equipment installation and is now operating what it claims is a first-of-its-kind lithium-ion battery (LIB) recycling facility at its McCarran, Nevada-based Innovation Center.

The company says the pilot is now operational with the introduction of feedstock into the automated system, enabling immediate recovery of valuable critical minerals from spent LIBs.

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“This is an unprecedented accomplishment for Aqua Metals, and for the global push toward electrification,” President and CEO Steve Cotton says. “We believe that Aqua Metals is the first company to take a vision beyond the laboratory, by establishing an industrial-scale, dedicated, U.S.-based recycling facility, built to continuously produce metric tons of high-purity minerals from spent lithium-ion batteries. We are confident that Aqua Metals is now positioned to be the first metals recycling facility in North America to recover battery-grade lithium hydroxide from spent batteries in commercial quantities, and to initiate sales of recycled critical minerals into both metals markets and the lithium-ion battery supply chain.”

The company is utilizing its Li AquaRefining technology, which it says is a low-emissions, closed-loop recycling solution capable of recovering all valuable metals, including high-purity lithium, manganese, cobalt and nickel from LIBs. The company says its goal is to demonstrate through the pilot operations its belief that Li AquaRefining is an economically superior process that offers a lower cost pathway to recycle critical minerals and achieve net-zero emissions.

Li AquaRefining utilizes electroplating powered by electricity to recover metals instead of intensive chemical processes or polluting fossil-fuel furnaces, Aqua Metals says. It adds that the patent-pending Li AquaRefining enables low-cost and efficient production of high-purity products—drastically lowering emissions and limiting waste streams—and is designed to significantly reduce capital and operating costs.

“I applaud our entire team for completing the successful equipment installation and working through the supply chain challenges to commence operations of this state-of-the-art recycling facility,” Chief Engineering and Operating Officer Ben Taecker says. “This is a foundational step for Aqua Metals as we begin scaling to demonstration capacity and subsequent full-scale commercial operations of what we believe is the world’s cleanest and lowest-cost lithium battery recycling technology.”

With the pilot facility operational, Aqua Metals says it anticipates the following milestones in the first quarter of 2023:

  • achieving targeted product specifications for each high purity metal;
  • ramping of the pilot facility to process metric tons of black mass per month;
  • and becoming the first company in North America to recover battery-grade lithium hydroxide from spent LIBs in commercial quantities

“With pilot operations commencing, Aqua Metals is focused on quickly advancing from the planning and validation phases to execution,” Cotton says. “We expect to initiate sales of recycled materials in the first quarter of 2023, while simultaneously advancing strategic offtake agreements to expand our revenue opportunity significantly. Accordingly, we expect 2023 to be a year of commercialization, leveraging our first-mover advantage within an industry eager for a solution to growing shortages of key battery components.”

 

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