Aqua Metals' Circular Nickel Recycling Success

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by KnowESG
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Aqua Metals, a company specialising in sustainable lithium-ion battery recycling, has announced that it has successfully extracted high-purity nickel from lithium battery black mass.

The company achieved this using its proprietary Li AquaRefining™ process, which involves the use of electricity and eliminates the need for a polluting smelter or the production of significant chemical waste during the recycling process. Aqua Metals is a pioneer in this sustainable approach to battery recycling.

Aqua Metals' innovative approach to lithium battery recycling allows for the recovery of all valuable metals, supporting a circular supply chain for manufacturing. This positions the company to play a crucial role in meeting the increasing demand for sustainably produced domestic metals.

Using its Li AquaRefining™ technology, Aqua Metals recovers nickel and other valuable metals through innovative electroplating in a closed-loop system.

This eliminates the need for energy-intensive and wasteful chemical processes, which would increase the cost and environmental pollution of recycling. As nickel is a crucial component in the global shift towards clean energy technologies, including electric vehicle batteries and energy storage systems, its sustainable recovery is critical.

Aqua Metals has also announced the successful extraction of high-purity lithium hydroxide and copper from 'black mass' at its pilot facility in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.

“Aqua Metals continues to drive clean battery recycling forward, and recovering high purity nickel without a polluting smelter or train loads of one-time-use chemicals and costly waste streams is a landmark achievement for the industry,” said Steve Cotton, Aqua Metals' President and CEO. "Our modular recycling pilot is proving that we can recycle lithium batteries in a low-cost, sustainable way and that we can quickly scale up our new solution to meet the rising demand for domestic minerals that are needed to make batteries."

Aqua Metals' Li AquaRefining™ Pilot is the sole operational electro-hydrometallurgy lithium battery recycling facility in North America. The company has already demonstrated successful results at both lab and bench scales.

Current commercial lithium battery recycling methods use an energy-intensive smelting process that generates toxic fumes, requiring mitigation efforts, and cannot recover usable lithium or manganese. Proposed hydrometallurgy recycling involves the consumption of tonnes of hazardous chemicals, resulting in landfill waste and significant environmental impact from the production and transportation of one-time-use chemicals.

Ben Taecker, Chief Engineering and Operations Officer at Aqua Metals, said, "It is not possible to recycle batteries in a way that is both cost-effective and sustainable if each ton recovered requires multiple tonnes of chemicals and creates tonnes of waste and pollution. Using AquaRefining we can eliminate these hazards, which creates a safer work environment, minimises transport of chemicals, and demonstrates our commitment to equitable and responsible recycling that benefits our community.”

Aqua Metals is currently scaling up its operations at the Li AquaRefining Pilot facility to increase the production of high-value products such as pure nickel, copper, and lithium hydroxide.

The company has also announced plans to develop an integrated clean metals recycling campus. As part of this initiative, Aqua Metals is commissioning a 3,000-tonne-per-year commercial recycling facility on a five-acre site, which will serve as the first phase of the expansion.

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Source: Aqua Metals


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