Pedal to the Metal: Innovation Center Established to Target Recycling Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Solutions

  • On September 27, 2021, Aqua Metals announced it has established an Innovation Center focused on the development of the cleanest and most cost-competitive lithium-ion battery recycling solutions.
  • Based on the company’s proprietary AquaRefining technology, which is a proven clean, closed-loop hydrometallurgical and electrochemical recycling solution for lithium-ion battery recycling. The company believes it is well-positioned to leverage this technology in the rapidly growing lithium-ion recycling market. In February of this year, the company filed a provisional patent for lithium-ion recycling.
  • The carbon footprint of lithium-ion batteries and material shortages are significant, and the proliferation of electric vehicles and utility-scale storage solutions will put increasing pressure on the battery supply chain. For example, the company notes that 30 million electric vehicles are expected to be produced annually by 2027, requiring 1.8 million MT of lithium, 5 times what is mined today.
  • AquaMetals states that the demand for lithium-ion battery materials in the next decade is predicted to increase over 575% for lithium and 1237% for nickel. Utilizing recycling will be key as it would be very challenging to mine enough raw materials, positioning recycling as a key part of the supply chain.
  • The global lithium-ion battery recycling market is expected to see rapid growth over the next few years driven by wider spread use and regulatory winds that will create standards in treating critical materials in the battery chemistry. The lithium-ion battery recycling market size was USD 1.31 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 11.07 billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 32.2% in the forecast period.
  • Aqua Metals expects to accelerate its focus on a capital-light business model and estimates its current technology licensing market opportunity at $7.2 billion. This is a critical strategy as it should enable to company to need much less capital to develop this market using licensing agreements and partnerships.
  • Our prior content on AQMS can be accessed HERE.

The Opportunities

The markets for lead and lithium are growing rapidly, fueled by energy storage applications in automobiles, data centers, and renewables. Aqua Metals is well positioned to take advantage of this growth through its proprietary AquaRefining technology. Prospective licensees will be looking for cost-effective solutions that improve the purity of their recycled metals while also cutting emissions as they face higher regulatory burdens and strive to meet aggressive ESG and Net Zero targets. Aqua Metals is poised to capitalize on this trend as its AquaRefining technology provides a fundamentally non-polluting and modular solution that improves the environmental impact of lead recycling, decreases regulatory burdens, and scales recycling production to meet the growing demand for high purity metals.

The Obstacles

The company’s novel AquaRefining technology, although proven on a demonstration commercial scale, has not yet been licensed to third party commercial operations. It will be critical for Aqua Metals to secure revenue generating equipment supply and licensing agreements and to successfully execute against those agreements by enabling its licensees to produce high purity AquaRefined lead at scale.

On September 27, 2021, Aqua Metals announced it has established an Innovation Center focused on the development of the cleanest and most cost-competitive lithium-ion battery recycling solutions.


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