Aqua Metals, Inc., a pioneer in sustainable lithium-ion battery recycling, announced it has successfully recovered high-purity nickel from lithium battery black mass using Aqua Metals’ proprietary Li AquaRefining™ process, using electricity, and without a polluting smelter or the significant chemical waste typical in recycling. The Company’s unique solution for recovering all valuable metals in lithium battery recycling supports a circular supply chain for manufacturing, and positions Aqua Metals to play an important role in meeting the growing demand for sustainably produced domestic metals.
Aqua Metals’ Li AquaRefining™ technology recovers nickel and other valuable metals using an innovative application of electroplating in a closed-loop, eliminating the need for energy-intensive and wasteful chemical processes that increase the cost and the resulting pollution of recycling. Nickel is an essential resource in the global push for electrification and clean energy technologies, and often makes up a substantial portion of the cost in electric vehicle batteries and energy storage systems. Aqua Metals also recently announced recovery of high purity lithium hydroxide and copper from ‘black mass’ at its operational pilot facility located in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.
“Aqua Metals continues to drive clean battery recycling forward, and recovering high purity nickel without a polluting smelter or train loads of one-time-use chemicals and costly waste streams is a landmark achievement for the industry,” said Steve Cotton, Aqua Metals’ President and CEO. “Our modular recycling pilot is proving out our vision for low-cost, sustainable lithium battery recycling and the ability to rapidly scale our novel solution to meet the surging demand for the domestic minerals essential to battery manufacturing.”
Having already demonstrated successfully at both the lab and bench scales, the Aqua Metals’ Li AquaRefining™ Pilot is now the only operational electro-hydrometallurgy lithium battery recycling facility in North America. Current commercial lithium battery recycling methods use an energy intensive smelting process that involves high temperatures, produces toxic fumes that must be mitigated, and is unable to recover usable lithium or manganese. Proposed hydrometallurgy recycling consumes tons of hazardous chemicals, producing landfill waste and significant environmental impact from the production and transport of the one-time-use chemicals.
“Cost-effective and sustainable battery recycling cannot be achieved if each ton recovered requires multiple tons of chemicals and results in tons of waste and pollution,” said Ben Taecker, Chief Engineering and Operations Officer at Aqua Metals. “Using AquaRefining we can eliminate these hazards, which creates a safer work environment, minimizes transport of chemicals, and demonstrates our commitment to equitable and responsible recycling that benefits our community.”