Agreement paves way for a sustainable, closed-loop supply of domestic lithium-ion battery materials in the United States
WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – Ascend Elements, a Massachusetts-based battery recycling and engineered materials company, and EcoPro Group, a leading South Korean battery materials company, today announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement to cooperate in the development, qualification, and integration of recycled battery materials into EcoPro’s cathode products.
EcoPro is a cathode active material (CAM) supplier to some of the largest EV battery manufacturers in North America while Ascend Elements recycles EV batteries and battery manufacturing scrap from many sources, including the SK Battery America (SKBA) facility in Commerce, Ga. Beyond EV battery recycling, Ascend Elements also transforms recycled batteries and manufacturing scrap into new, sustainable cathode precursor. With this agreement, Ascend Elements will supply recycled battery materials to EcoPro, which will convert the material into battery-ready, high-performance CAM for its battery manufacturing clients.
“This is one of the first North American examples of a truly circular battery economy,” said Michael O’Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements. “Currently, battery manufacturing scrap is the largest source of lithium-ion battery materials available for recycling. We’re not only recycling this scrap material and keeping it out landfills, we’re elevating the value of the material by engineering it to meet EcoPro’s precise specifications.”
“Creating a circular economy by recycling the materials from scrap batteries is extremely important in our quest for sustainability. By closing the loop to reuse the materials for new cathode active materials production is the key component for a greener future. Partnering with Ascend Elements, beginning in 2023, for pre-treatment of upstream materials in North America is a step closer to achieving our goals,” said Sangwook Park, Strategic Planning VP of EcoPro.
By using recycled battery materials instead of newly mined materials, battery manufacturers can significantly reduce the climate impact of EV battery manufacturing. Additionally, cathode precursor made in the United States from recycled lithium-ion batteries is considered a domestic source of battery materials under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act.
Ascend Elements uses its innovative Hydro-to-Cathode™ direct precursor synthesis process to transform black mass into sustainable, high-performance precursor and CAM that rival or exceed the performance of cathode materials made with virgin metals. The process can recover up to 98% of critical battery elements with lower carbon emissions compared to traditional cathode manufacturing methods.
The company recently announced plans to invest up to $1 billion to build a sustainable lithium-ion battery materials facility in Hopkinsville, Ky. The first-of-its-kind manufacturing facility, known as “Apex 1”, will produce enough lithium-ion battery precursor and sustainable CAM to equip up to 250,000 electric vehicles per year.