Lithium-ion Recycling Hub Launches in Kentucky

South Korea’s SK ecoplant, in partnership with U.S.-based Ascend Elements and e-waste recycling subsidiary TES, is poised to inaugurate a $65 million lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Hopkinsville, Ky. Spanning 100,000 square feet, this cutting-edge facility targets disassembling and shredding roughly 56,000 EV batteries annually. The construction, commencing in November 2023, aims for completion by January 2025.

Why It Matters

This collaboration signals a pioneering move in America’s EV battery recycling industry. As the EV battery production ramps up, there’s a burgeoning need for similar recycling plants to manage both manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries. Given the capital-intensive nature of such projects, joint ventures, such as this, emerge as a crucial approach to bolstering infrastructure.

Key Points

  • Ownership Stake: SK ecoplant holds a majority interest of 64%, followed by Ascend Elements with 25%, and TES with an 11% stake.
  • Economic Impact: The facility is projected to generate approximately 60 new jobs.
  • Production Output: Estimated annual production of 12,000 metric tons of black mass, a vital component housing the invaluable cathode and anode materials in EV batteries.
  • Supply Chain: Black mass from this facility will bolster the Apex 1 engineered battery materials project, also located in Hopkinsville. Set to be functional by 2024, Apex 1, a $1 billion endeavor, is North America’s maiden sustainable pCAM and CAM manufacturing entity. It’s forecasted to yield pCAM sufficient for nearly 750,000 new EVs annually.
  • Innovation: Ascend Elements’ patented Hydro-to-Cathode® process manifests a streamlined and eco-friendly approach to producing sustainable pCAM and CAM from black mass, diverging from the traditional mined metals.

Bottom Line

The SK ecoplant-Ascend Elements alliance symbolizes the dawn of an enhanced, eco-conscious era in EV battery recycling, harmonizing economic growth with environmental prudence. Backed by significant funding and innovative technology, this venture is poised to significantly influence America’s EV battery manufacturing and recycling landscape.


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