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Aqua Metals advances lithium battery recycling operations – American Recycler Newspaper

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Aqua Metals, Inc., a pioneer in sustainable lithium-ion battery recycling, has completed its groundbreaking 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) the company reclaims from spent lithium batteries using its patented AquaRefining technology. Aqua Metals believes this advance makes it the first fully operational lithium battery recycler using advanced electro-hydrometallurgy – replacing polluting 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 US 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.”
The company has completed the pilot and 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, the company also continues the simultaneous phased development and commissioning of its first commercial-scale facility. The first phase of Aqua Metals’ recycling campus will be designed to process 3,000tpa black mass, for which the company has secured both sufficient supply of black mass to reach scale and is in the process of finalizing off-take agreements for the recycled materials. The company expects that at current metals prices and projected processing costs at scale, its Phase 1 recycling facility should generate positive cash flow.
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.
“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 Chief Executive Officer 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 intends to capitalize on its first-mover advantage, driving U.S. leadership in sustainable battery recycling, and building a robust domestic supply chain for the critical minerals that cleanly power an electrified future.”
Aqua Metals’ regenerative electro-hydrometallurgical recycling method offers a substantial improvement over traditional pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical recycling techniques, which produce much higher emissions, lower recovery rates, and significant landfill waste. The AquaRefining process vastly reduces the environmental impact of recycling lithium batteries as compared to other processes.
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