Aqua Metals completes battery recycling facility pilot
Aqua Metals, Inc. has completed its Li AquaRefining recycling pilot transition to 24/5 operations and production of high-purity, saleable quantities of sustainably recycled battery materials.
The company completed the pilot facility commissioning with the recovery of both cobalt and manganese dioxide, completing the suite of valuable metals (including high-purity lithium hydroxide, nickel, and copper) Aqua Metals reclaims from spent lithium batteries using its AquaRefining technology. Aqua Metals says that this advance makes it the first fully operational lithium battery recycler using advanced electro-hydrometallurgy technology. Aqua Metals' electro-hydrometallurgy process replaces furnaces and intensive chemicals typical of recycling with electricity to separate the critical metals from spent lithium batteries.
"Completing commissioning and moving into 24/5 operations at our Li AquaRefining pilot is a tremendous milestone for Aqua Metals and represents the future of sustainable lithium battery recycling in the U.S. and beyond," said Ben Taecker, chief engineering and operations officer at Aqua Metals. "Not only are we demonstrating the scalability of our solution, but also our significant advantages in recovery rates, emissions reductions, and worker safety compared to current battery recycling facilities."
The company has completed the pilot - from finalized design through to operations - in roughly eight months. A transition to 24-hour operations is scaling the pilot facility to a capacity of 75 tons per annum (tpa) of processed black mass input. Based on the success of the pilot, Aqua Metals will continue the phased development and commissioning of its first commercial-scale facility, which was initiated in early 2023.
The first phase of Aqua Metals' recycling campus will be designed to process 3,000 tpa of black mass. Aqua Metals has secured a sufficient supply of black mass to reach scale and is in the process of finalizing offtake agreements for the recycled materials.
Aqua Metals intends to sell the high-purity and battery-grade materials produced at the pilot to metals buyers and start generating initial revenue from recycled metals in the third quarter. The company will also continue distributing its production samples to existing and potential battery and cathode manufacturing buyers, advancing ongoing partnership and long-term off-taker discussions.
"As previously guided, the successful execution of our rapid scaling strategy is a testament to the innovation and adaptability of our entire engineering and operations team," said Steve Cotton, president and CEO of Aqua Metals. "The lessons learned from our pilot and improvements in our modular solution reaffirm our confidence in our commercialization strategy. We have secured more than 3,000 tons of black mass to fuel our operations, enough supply to reach commercial scale in 2024."
Aqua Metals has released plans to develop a five-acre clean metals recycling campus, located in Tahoe-Reno, with space for more than 10,000 tpa of total capacity once completed. A phased development is planned for the campus, beginning with the already commenced redevelopment of an existing building on-site into the first commercial-scale Li AquaRefinery, targeting 3,000 tpa capacity.