The Elements of Innovation Discovered

ABTC exceeds battery recycling capacity

Metal Tech News - May 15, 2024

Company ramps up recycling facility, operates at over 115% capacity.

In a triumph of innovation, American Battery Technology Company announced a groundbreaking milestone: its lithium-ion battery recycling facility has been operating steadily at over 115% of its designed capacity, showcasing the efficacy of its proprietary recycling technology.

Established in 2011, ABTC began its journey with a handful of mining claims out of Nevada. Stemming from a former Tesla employee's ambition to supply lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, this strategic move reflected keen foresight.

Recognizing the critical importance of supplying domestic lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese for powering EVs and storing electricity from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar, ABTC expanded its scope beyond primary battery metals manufacturing to include lithium-ion recycling.

Internally developed tech

ABTC's Nevada facility has seen notable success in advancing battery recycling. With a pre-commercial battery recycling plant and a move-in-ready commercial-scale facility, ABTC demonstrates its commitment to industry innovation.

This strategic expansion, alongside the recent achievement of the lithium-ion battery recycling facility surpassing its designed capacity, underscores ABTC's significant progress in the field.

"One of the key advantages of commercializing an internally developed technology is that the team members have a fundamental understanding of every unit operation within the processing train," said American Battery Technology CEO Ryan Melsert. "This allows them to be constantly evaluating the data and operating conditions from the facility in real-time and continuously enhancing the operations, both through incremental day-to-day as well as step-change disruptive improvements."

Utilizing a first-of-its-kind integrated set of recycling processes based on a strategic de-manufacturing approach, ABTC has designed an agnostic system that can take in batteries of varying shapes and sizes with a wide range of internal chemistries.

The first phase of the recycling process produces recycled products that include copper, aluminum, steel, a lithium intermediate, and a black mass intermediate material, and the integrated second phase further refines these materials into battery-grade nickel sulfate, cobalt sulfate, manganese sulfate, and lithium hydroxide.

"Having in-house expertise is critical to our continued success and ability to rapidly advance our operations, and I am extremely proud of the tenacity, creativity, and collaboration demonstrated by our team every day," said ABTC COO Andrés Meza. "Pushing this volume of material through a fully customized, large-scale, complex system is no easy feat, and I am extremely pleased with how smoothly the system is performing overall. Our reliability improvements are paying dividends, and we are now laser-focused on sustainable rate improvements, further operational expenditure reductions, and cost efficiencies through automation."

American Battery Technology Company

ABTC's approximately 137,000-square-foot facility was vacant and previously used to recycle lead-acid batteries. Due to ideal circumstances, it became the perfect choice for the company to establish its lithium-ion battery recycling plant.

Phase-two recycling

The company is already in the process of implementing the second phase of this integrated recycling facility, where the lithium intermediate from its first phase process will be further refined into a battery-grade lithium hydroxide product, and the black mass intermediate material will be further refined into battery grade nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium hydroxide products.

The company's in-house research, development, and engineering teams, many with experience from the Tesla Gigafactory, have advanced these technologies, de-risking ABTC's commercialization efforts.

Validating and optimizing its pioneering recycling technologies over several years, ABTC has showcased innovation through various achievements. These include winning the battery recycling portion of the BASF-sponsored Circularity Challenge and securing a battery recycling grant from the USABC, comprised of the US Department of Energy, General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis.

ABTC's endeavors also include a competitive U.S. Department of Energy grant aimed at developing and commercializing next-generation battery recycling technologies to enhance recycled product recovery and reduce operational costs.

Additionally, the company has recently been selected for two competitively awarded tax credits totaling more than $60 million through the Qualifying Advanced Energy Project Credits program (48C) for the reimbursement of capital expenses at its current Nevada recycling facility to support the capital expenditures for the second phase processes at this facility, and to support the construction of a significantly larger additional battery recycling facility to process material from new strategic suppliers.

"We're incredibly proud of this team who have taken ownership of the success of this facility as we move to 24/7 operations," finished Melsert.

 

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