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Ascend, Koura Deal Closes the Loop on Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling

Ascend Elements will supply up to 5,000 metric tons of recycled lithium carbonate annually to Koura, Orbia's fluorinated solutions business, for use in advanced lithium-ion battery materials.

Michael C. Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Battery Technology

March 20, 2023

2 Min Read
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Recycled lithium carbonate recovered from used lithium-ion batteries by Ascend Elements.Image courtesy of Ascend Elements

Ascend Elements, a lithium-ion battery recycling and engineered materials company, will supply Koura, an Orbia business and one of the world's largest producers of fluoroproducts, with up to 5,000 metric tons of recovered and recycled lithium carbonate per year, the companies announced this week. Koura will use the recycled lithium carbonate as the source for lithium-ion battery materials in the United States and European markets, including lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6), an essential electrolyte salt.

The supply agreement with Ascend Elements will enable Koura to generate enough material to support the production of more than one million electric vehicles per year. With more than half of US and European car sales projected to be electric by 2030, demand for regional material supply is increasing.

“Koura is leading the industry's efforts to incorporate recycled content into materials for lithium-ion batteries,” stated Ascend Elements CEO Mike O'Kronley. “By recovering lithium and other critical metals from used lithium-ion batteries and manufacturing scrap, we are keeping those materials out of landfills while also making EV batteries cleaner and more sustainable.”

“Ascend Elements has been an ideal development partner for our Koura business, given our shared focus on renewable technologies and the massive opportunities for companies pioneering in batteries and energy storage,” stated Sameer Bharadwaj, CEO of Orbia. “Our partnership with Ascend has accelerated our material innovation activities as we work to advance life around the world.”

Ascend Elements' battery recycling process recovers lithium carbonate from used lithium-ion batteries and manufacturing scrap for sale to battery materials companies, such as Koura. The recycled lithium is also used by Ascend Elements as part of its patented Hydro-to-Cathode direct precursor synthesis process to produce sustainably engineered cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active materials (CAM).

On October 20, 2022, Ascend Elements began construction in Hopkinsville, KY, of Apex 1, its largest electric vehicle battery recycling and engineered materials manufacturing facility. The company plans to invest close to $1 billion in the 140-acre campus and 500,000-sq. ft. manufacturing facility. When completed, the facility will produce enough pCAM and CAM to equip 250,000 EVs per year. With potential expansion phases, the facility will employ up to 400 people and generate up to $4.4 billion in economic impact to Kentucky over the construction period and first 10 years.

The US Inflation Reduction Act provides incentives for the use of domestic and recycled sources of critical battery materials, including lithium. Peer-reviewed studies have shown recycled battery metals can perform as well as virgin metals while reducing carbon emissions associated with mining.

About the Author(s)

Michael C. Anderson

Editor-in-Chief, Battery Technology, Informa Markets - Engineering

Battery Technology Editor-in-Chief Michael C. Anderson has been covering manufacturing and transportation technology developments for more than a quarter-century, with editor roles at Manufacturing Engineering, Cutting Tool Engineering, Automotive Design & Production, and Smart Manufacturing. Before all of that, he taught English and literature at colleges in Japan and Michigan.

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