Aqua Metals recovers high-purity nickel from lithium battery black mass

Aqua Metals has successfully recovered high-purity nickel from lithium battery black mass using its proprietary Li AquaRefining process, utilizing 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 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.

Having already demonstrated successfully at both lab and bench scales, the Aqua Metals’ Li AquaRefining Pilot is 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 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”, says Ben Taecker, Chief Engineering and Operations Officer at Aqua Metals.

Aqua Metals is currently scaling operations at its Li AquaRefining Pilot facility and is ramping up production of high-value products including pure nickel, copper, and lithium hydroxide. The company recently announced plans for the development of an integrated clean metals recycling campus, and is currently commissioning a 3,000 ton per year commercial recycling facility on the five-acre site as the first phase of the expansion.

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