AGL signs up battery recycling innovator that avoids “black mass” for Hunter hub

AGL has signed a tentative deal to look at setting up a lithium battery recycling centre in Newcastle, just months after the partner in this deal scored $8 million to scale up its technology.

Battery recycling start-up Renewable Metals, which signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), already has two pilot plants in Perth and is building a larger demonstration plant which can recycle 1,500 tonnes of battery waste a year. It plans to have that facility running within the next 12 months. 

The startup’s latest deal will see it develop a pre-feasibility study into setting up a lithium battery recycling facility that can handle 5000 tonnes of waste a year, at AGL’s proposed Hunter Energy Hub in the New South Wales city.

If this project were to go ahead, at this stage it will be Renewable Metals’ first full-scale plant.  “The potential facility could not only help us achieve our environmental goals but could also create valuable job opportunities and stimulate economic growth within the community,” says Renewable Metals CEO Luan Atkinson.“Renewable Metals is excited to be working with the AGL to further our vision to close the loop in the battery value chain. We’re looking forward to actively contributing to the transformation of the Hunter region into a renewable energy powerhouse.”

In October, the startup was given $8 million by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CECF) to scale up its technology, which it says can extract more than 95 per cent of lithium and high amounts of nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese from lithium-ion batteries without having to finely grind the batteries into a substance called ‘black mass’.

Its process uses an alkali-based leach instead of acids, which need to be countered with equally strong base chemicals, and can also be used on the increasingly popular lithium iron phosphate batteries which are harder to recycle.

Renewable Metals says the process uses less energy, fewer chemicals, and results in a smaller volume of byproducts, all of which results in an up to 30 per cent drop in costs compared to existing processes.


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