Ascend Elements, a U.S.-based manufacturer of sustainable, engineered battery materials for electric vehicles, has announced it has raised $542 million in new equity investments, including $460 million in Series D investments and $82 million of additional investments from earlier this year. Ascend Elements’ Series D round was led by Decarbonization Partners, Singapore-based investment firm Temasek, and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Other investors include Tenaska, Alliance Resource Partners, PULSE – CMA CGM Energy Fund, BHP Ventures, Fifth Wall, Hitachi Ventures, Mirae Asset, At One Ventures, Agave Partners, Alumni Ventures and other leading global investors.
The $542 million equity financing is one of the largest cleantech equity private placements in the United States of 2023 to date, and one of the top 10 equity private placements in the United States this year.
“I’d like to thank our new and existing partners for helping us deliver on our vision of producing sustainable, engineered battery materials at a commercial scale. Our sustainable lithium-ion battery materials will power EV batteries and accelerate the global transition to zero carbon emissions,” said CEO Mike O’Kronley of Ascend Elements. “Together, we are investing in North America’s critical EV battery infrastructure and bringing good manufacturing jobs back to the United States.”
“We are excited to invest in Ascend Elements, which has established itself as a leader in the fast-growing sustainable battery materials space that is vital to accelerating the electrification of transport,” said Dr. Meghan Sharp, Global Head of Decarbonization Partners. “We are pleased to collaborate on this investment alongside our JV partner, Temasek, and look forward to supporting Ascend Elements’ continued expansion and technological innovation.”
“We are pleased to be investing in Ascend Elements, a proven leader in the manufacturing of engineered battery materials, and a key partner in QIA’s efforts to fund the global energy transition,” said Mohammed Al-Sowaidi, Chief Investment Officer, Americas at Qatar Investment Authority. “This investment is aligned with QIA’s strategy of supporting innovative companies shaping the future of the global economy and will be a major investment in our North American portfolio.”
The funding will advance construction of Ascend Elements’ Apex 1 facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which will be North America’s first sustainable cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active material (CAM) manufacturing facility. CAM and pCAM are engineered materials made to precise microstructure specifications for use in electric vehicle batteries. While most of the world’s pCAM and CAM are made in China from primary (mined) metals, U.S.-based Ascend Elements is commercializing an ultra-efficient method to make sustainable pCAM and CAM from black mass, the traditional output of lithium-ion battery recycling facilities. The patented Hydro-to-Cathode® direct precursor synthesis process eliminates several intermediary steps in the traditional cathode manufacturing process and provides significant economic and carbon-reduction benefits. Several peer-reviewed studies have shown Ascend Elements’ recycled battery materials perform as well as similar materials made from virgin (or mined) sources while reducing carbon emissions by up to 93%.
Over the last twelve months, Ascend Elements has achieved several significant milestones, including signing its first commercial scale pCAM contract, starting construction of its Apex 1 facility, and securing two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants. In June 2023, Ascend Elements signed a $1 billion contract to supply sustainable pCAM starting in Q4 2024 with options to expand the multi-year contract to a larger quantity with a value of up to $5 billion. In October 2022, Ascend Elements began construction of its one-of-a-kind Apex 1 facility on a 140-acre site in southwest Kentucky. When complete, the 1-million-square-foot facility will produce enough sustainable pCAM for 750,000 electric vehicles per year. Ascend Elements was also awarded two U.S. Department of Energy grants totaling $480 million, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in October 2022.
Mike O’Kronley adds, “I’m extremely proud of our team and the amazing progress that we’ve been able to achieve over the last year. We look forward to building upon our strong momentum with support from our new and existing partners to develop the sustainable, domestic EV supply chain needed for the global energy transition.”