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By A.J. Roan
Metal Tech News 

ABTC joins BASF closed-loop battery team

All pieces in play for the first North American circular system Metal Tech News – September 20, 2023


Last updated 9/19/2023 at 1:50pm

A lump of lithium-ion battery scrap to be processed by BASF and TODA.

Lithium-ion battery scrap from ABTC will be processed at BASF's Battle Creek plant to be converted into cathode active materials for Nanotech Energy's lithium-ion battery cells.

With significant funding from the Department of Energy toward its Tonopah Flats lithium project, visits from representatives from the White House, and a partnership with TechMet-Mercuria, American Battery Technology Company has added yet another milestone to its skyrocketing success – a new agreement with German chemical giant BASF to develop a regional closed-loop solution for lithium-ion battery recycling for the North American market.

"The establishment of a true closed-loop battery materials supply chain within North America is only possible with the commitment of partners within each sector of the circular supply chain, and we could have no better partner in this endeavor than BASF," said American Battery Technology Company CEO Ryan Melsert.

Under the terms of the agreement, with deliveries expected to begin in 2024, BASF will produce cathode active materials at its production site in Battle Creek, Michigan, using recycled metals purchased from ABTC, such as nickel, cobalt, and lithium.

Part of a broader collaborative effort that includes TODA Advanced Materials Inc. and Nanotech Energy, BASF is aiming for the first closed-loop system for lithium-ion batteries in North America, and with materials sourced from ABTC, has pulled together a team of companies that each cover a link in the whole chain to finished product.

"BASF is the only cathode active material producer with production in North America, Europe and Asia and understands what it takes to close the loop for our customers," said Michael Burdick, business manager of battery recycling at BASF. "We have been working closely with ABTC since 2019 and are proud to announce our formal partnership in North America which will create the first closed loop in the region."

With all the pieces in play, the companies can begin the trend that will invariably push them in the lead for ethically-, environmentally-, and domestically-sourced lithium-ion batteries for the renewable energy future in North America.

"By working together, our four companies can pool their expertise and drive better and more sustainable outcomes for the entire North American electric vehicle and consumer electronics industries," said Curtis Collar, chief marketing and sales officer at Nanotech Energy.

ABTC's commercial-scale battery recycling facility in McCarran, Nevada, will take the battery scrap and unused materials from Nanotech's manufacturing facility in Chico, California. From there, ABTC will recover battery materials like nickel, cobalt, and manganese by separating, recovering, and purifying the materials in order to meet battery-grade material specifications.

Rows of what appears as Double AA Nanotech Energy batteries.

Nanotech Energy Inc.

Nanotech Energy has been advancing potential graphene batteries that could outdo lithium-ion in most regards.

Chemical company TODA Advanced Materials' facility in Sarnia, Ontario, and BASF's Michigan site will use the materials to produce precursors for cathode active materials, which are mixed-metal hydroxides comprised of nickel, cobalt, and other chemical elements.

Finally, Nanotech Energy will retrieve and reuse the materials in its battery cell production.

"Our partnership with Nanotech, ABTC, and TODA marks an important step for BASF's global battery recycling business," said Daniel Schönfelder, SVP of battery base metals and recycling at BASF. "This enables BASF and Nanotech to produce lithium-ion batteries with locally recycled content."

Once the batteries produced by these companies reach the ends of their life – and are once more recycled and rebuilt into new batteries – the first complete loop will occur for North America. But for now, this is already a precedent for clean, renewable energy and with the success of one, may many more follow.


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