BatX’s Strong Network Aided In Boosting Battery Recycling: Vikrant Singh

Highlights :

BatX  Energies is an Indian battery recycling firm dealing with recycling of used Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in electric vehicles. In an interview with Saur Energy, Vikrant Singh, the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and Co-Founder of BatX talked about the firm’s journey and challenges. Excerpts

BatX’s Strong Network Aided In Boosting Battery Recycling: Vikrant Singh BatX’s Strong Network Aided In Boosting Battery Recycling: Vikrant Singh. Photo-Saur Energy

How did BatX Energies’ start its journey of recycling Lithium-ion batteries? 

During one of our projects on making electric cars, we realized the importance of Lithium-ion batteries. The cost of making the car was around, and we were surprised to know that the cost of a Lithium-ion battery was almost the same. As India depends on other countries to source lithium-ion battery cells for electric vehicles (EVs), we decided to build a technology to make them in the lab. We were able to build that in our nano-science laboratory with support from the BML Munjal University. But realized that making it a business is very expensive. After a spree of research, lab work, and explorations, we launched BatX Energies. 

How challenging have you found the Lithium-ion battery recycling segment? 

We found that it needs a lot of funds if we want to commercialize it. If we’re going to jump onto the business side of Li-ion manufacturing, it would require a lot of funds. The least is around 200 million USD in cell technology. We thought that let us plan using old batteries like laptops and EVs. We thought we could reuse the old cells. We explored the market and realized it is a vast market. Then, we decided to start BatX based on our ideas. We found that we could create the technology. Initially, we mostly did R&D. Lab-scale technology to commercial plan was done. First, we planned to extract the black mass and worked on that. 

What is the current status of your firm? 

When we started, hardly any players were doing battery recycling on a commercial scale in India. The country’s resources and infrastructure were dead as the concept was very new. There was a lack of support then. There were hardly any testing laboratories. There was no ecosystem for the new emerging market. It demanded high-cost equipment to test it. So we did a lot of work initially. Now, we are processing around 200 metric tonnes of battery waste every month, equivalent to 20 million monthly batteries. So this is the scale we have been able to reach now. 

Why Lithium-battery remains a costly affair? 

This is primarily because of the critical elements that go into manufacturing these advanced batteries. They use elements like Lithium-Nickel, Cobalt, Manganese and others. There are around eight scarce elements that are used in Lithoum-ion batteries. Most are not produced in India and are rare on the earth. So most of them are costly items. These elements are responsible for creating charging facilities inside the Lithoum-ion battery cells. 

What are the main challenges you confront in battery recycling? 

Battery recycling, especially Lithium-ion battery recycling, is in its nascent stage in India. There are a lot of problems in the sector. Currently, after extracting the essential elements from the used batteries, we give them to the pharma sector, aerospace sector and electroplating sector. As India hardly manufactures Lithium-ion batteries from scratch, there is hardly any demand for the extracted items from the black mass. So beyond the local supply, we must consider exporting it to countries where these batteries are manufactured. Moreover, taking Lithium-ion battery recycling is cost-intensive as the equipment is costly. 

How is BatX Energies’ technology different from others? 

Globally, many firms use pyro technology, which involves extensive use of heat and thus needs massive amounts of electricity, leading to more emissions. Our technology is based on hydrometallurgical technology. This makes our business more sustainable as it is not associated with emissions. Our system has a closed loop. So this also allows us to scale it up and make it more commercially viable. We have also received several patents against our unique technologies. 

How can you get amply used batteries to make your business more viable? 

In the last few years, we have also created a robust network with logistics firms across India through which we can source the used batteries and give a fillip to our business. Meanwhile, we have also tied up with battery-swapping firms like Battery Smart and others. We have also partnered with major two-, three-, and four-wheeler battery manufacturers and vehicle makers to ensure an adequate supply of batteries for recycling. 

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