Aqua Metals electroplates first critical battery metal
Aqua Metals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AQMS) (“Aqua Metals" or the “Company”), which is reinventing metals recycling with its AquaRefining™ technology, today announced it has successfully recovered critical battery metal from spent lithium-ion batteries at production scale by electroplating. The Company’s pilot Li AquaRefining system has proven the ability to remove impurities and trace metals from tons of recycled lithium battery ‘black mass’ and then selectively recover pure metal using electricity instead of polluting furnaces or wasteful chemicals processes.
Copper is the first of the valuable products recycled using electricity in the patent-pending Li AquaRefining process, a metal that is essential to clean energy technologies and building a domestic battery manufacturing industry. The company intends to follow by recovering lithium hydroxide, nickel, cobalt, and manganese dioxide – recycling all the valuable minerals within common black mass feedstock. Because AquaRefining is designed to remove trace elements and recovers these pure metals selectively, we believe the innovative system can process feedstock with varying concentrations of critical minerals and adapt to future changes in lithium battery chemistries.
“Successfully recovering commercial quantities of pure metal from recycled lithium batteries using electroplating is a significant milestone for Aqua Metals and the entire industry,” said Steve Cotton, President and CEO of Aqua Metals. “We believe Li AquaRefining can play an important role in accelerating the development of a secure, sustainable domestic supply chain for minerals essential to electric vehicle and battery energy storage manufacturers, and this is a key step towards delivering our clean recycled metals to market to meet the growing demand for domestically-sourced content.”
Clean energy future
Reclaiming metals with the Company’s closed-loop electroplating technology enables economically favorable and efficient production of high-purity products from spent lithium batteries, without high-energy furnaces or the continuous waste streams and expense of one-time-use chemicals. Aqua Metals believes in a clean energy future powered by renewables and sees recycling battery material with electricity derived from renewable sources as the only viable pathway to achieving net-zero operations. The Company currently purchases renewable energy credits (REC) for the electricity used at the pilot facility and offsets all remaining direct and indirect carbon emissions in its carbon footprint.
“We are seeing tremendous progress at our pilot facility, and copper is first in the suite of clean battery metals we expect to recover through Li AquaRefining,” said Ben Taecker, Aqua Metals’ Chief Engineering and Operating Officer. “We are proceeding to the recovery of battery-grade lithium hydroxide - which we believe will also be a first for the metals recycling industry in North America - then plating high-purity nickel and cobalt, and finally recovering manganese dioxide. We look forward to providing continued updates of milestones and performance from our economically favorable and sustainable recycling technology pilot.”