US lead-acid battery-recycling start-up Aqua Metals has successfully modified equipment to resolve a “sticky lead” condition that had hampered production at its facility in Nevada.
The company, which is working to commercialise a water-based recycling process, revealed last December that lead recovered during its AquaRefining process was sticking to the exit chutes of processing equipment.
However, the company said on 12 February it has resolved the issue by modifying the exit chute and improving the electrolyte feed system on one AquaRefining module— and produced lead that has been converted into ingots.
A video of the “updated” AquaRefining module in operation has been posted on YouTube.
“Initial testing of the chosen solution was completed using one electrolyser during the remainder of December 2017,” Aqua Metals said.
“This solution was then expanded to one full module, comprised of six electrolysers and operated during January and early February. The retro-fitted module has completed a series of tests including operation of more than 20 hours over a four-day period.”
Aqua Metals said the “electrolyser retro-fit design has now been approved for production”— and the solution is being applied to all 16 AquaRefining modules, which are expected to enter commercial operation “on a rolling basis”.
The company said it is implementing “additional improvements to the plant, including the breaker, separation systems, electrolyte production and ingot line, in order to scale up its operations.”
Aqua Metals said last month it would “vigorously” defend itself against allegations that it had been “misleading” investors about its technology. The allegations came after the company posted further losses for the third quarter of 2017 and admitted production was “significantly behind schedule”.