NASDAQ-listed lithium-ion battery recycler Aqua Metals announced the recovery of high-purity lithium hydroxide from lithium-ion battery black mass.
It called it a “technical milestone” and said the production and availability of the first recycled lithium hydroxide at scale will help close the supply chain loop for critical battery metals in the US. Its Li AquaRefining recycling facility is in Nevada, US.
The immediate recovery of lithium hydroxide also improves the economics of recycling advanced battery chemistries like lithium iron phosphate, it added.
Steve Cotton, CEO and President of Aqua Metals, said: “We believe Li AquaRefining is now the only proven battery recycling technology that can produce lithium hydroxide at scale – avoiding the need for additional costly and polluting refinement. We believe this new capability can have a profound impact on the lithium battery industry in North America.”
Its closed-loop recycling system recovers critical resources from spent lithium batteries primarily using electricity, without furnaces or intensive chemical processes.
Aqua Metals plans to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide directly from black mass using its patent-pending, regenerative electro-hydrometallurgy process.
The company said lithium hydroxide is often preferred over lithium carbonate or other lithium salts for cathode material in electric vehicles and energy storage systems. This is due to its ease of use in manufacturing and superior electrochemical performance.
Ben Taecker, Chief Engineering and Operations Officer at Aqua Metals, said: “Successfully scaling up our unique lithium hydroxide recovery process is a major technical milestone for the industry, heralding an era of low-emissions, circular supply of critical battery metals produced from domestic resources.
“Producing large quantities of recycled feedstock is new to battery manufacturing, and our ability to combine the recycling and refining of lithium into one process avoids unnecessary waste streams, lowers overall costs and improves supply chain efficiency for the rapidly growing lithium battery industry.”
- The company puts lithium battery ‘black mass’ into a solution of diluted acid and when they recover lithium hydroxide, that same acidic solution is produced as a by-product of the process
- The company said this regenerative process cuts waste by 95% compared to hydrometallurgy, which has one-time-use chemicals that make sodium sulfate as a waste byproduct when making the less valuable lithium carbonate
- Electro-hydrometallurgy: The metals are primarily recovered through an electroplating-like process. It uses a mix of electro- and hydro-metallurgy techniques. Aqua Metals claims to be the first (and only) electro-hydrometallurgical recycler in North America
- It tailors the product to exact customer requirements.
Photo: Listing black mass at Aqua Metals’ pilot Li recycling facility