Lithium Battery Recycling In Focus With $542 Million Funding For Ascend Elements

Highlights :

  • Decarbonization PartnersTemasek, and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) are leading the Series D funding round
  • Ascend Elements will use the proceeds to build the United States’ first commercial-scale, NMC cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active material (CAM) manufacturing facility in Kentucky
Lithium Battery Recycling In Focus With $542 Million Funding For Ascend Elements

The battery recycling market in the US has heated up with the announcement from Ascend Elements, of a huge $542 million in Series D funding. Ascend had earlier been granted massive grants of over $400 million by the Department of Energy, and the latest fund raise makes it one of the largest U.S. cleantech equity private placements of 2023 to date.

The funding will advance construction of Ascend Elements’ Apex 1 facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which will be North America’s first sustainable cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active material (CAM) manufacturing facility. CAM and pCAM are engineered materials made to precise microstructure specifications for use in electric vehicle batteries. While most of the world’s pCAM and CAM are made in China from primary (mined) metals, U.S.-based Ascend Elements is commercializing an ultra-efficient method to make sustainable pCAM and CAM from black mass, the traditional output of lithium-ion battery recycling facilities. The patented Hydro-to-Cathode® direct precursor synthesis process eliminates several intermediary steps in the traditional cathode manufacturing process and provides significant economic and carbon-reduction benefits. Several peer-reviewed studies have shown Ascend Elements’ recycled battery materials perform as well as similar materials made from virgin (or mined) sources while reducing carbon emissions by up to 93%.

Over the last twelve months, Ascend Elements has achieved several significant milestones, including signing its first commercial scale pCAM contract, starting construction of its Apex 1 facility, and securing two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants. In June 2023, Ascend Elements signed a $1 billion contract to supply sustainable pCAM starting in Q4 2024 with options to expand the multi-year contract to a larger quantity with a value of up to $5 billion. In October 2022, Ascend Elements began construction of its one-of-a-kind Apex 1 facility on a 140-acre site in southwest Kentucky. When complete, the 1-million-square-foot facility will produce enough sustainable pCAM for 750,000 electric vehicles per year. Ascend Elements was also awarded two U.S. Department of Energy grants totaling $480 million, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in October 2022.

The eight-year-old company has quickly taken pole position in the recycling market with the latest funding, as well as set the bar high for competitors.

Lithium Battery-recycling

The market for Lithium battery recycling has become crucial, as investors and firms realise that sustained growth in the market is possible only with high leves of recycling, considering the risk of high Chinese control over raw materials and other resources. There is an active  $192 million effort from the US Energy Department to back battery recycling tech in the U.S. The billions being invested have also found an echo in India, where local startups ranging from Attero, to Lohum and BatteryX have drawn strong investor interest for their recycling plans.

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