American Battery Technology Company ramps its lithium-ion battery recycling facility and operates at over 115% design rate

American Battery Technology Company, an integrated critical battery materials company that is commercializing its technologies for both primary battery minerals manufacturing and secondary minerals lithiumion battery recycling, has achieved a significant milestone by demonstrating a fixed duration operation of  its commercial-scale lithiumion battery recycling facility at a steady-state throughput of greater than 115% of its maximum design rate. At full production capacity, this facility was initially designed to nominally process 20,000 metric tonnes per year of battery feedstock, and surpassing this design rate demonstrates the impact of the continued process enhancements that have been implemented in the commissioning of the facility.

“One of the key advantages of commercializing an internally-developed technology is that the team members have a fundamental understanding of every unit operation within the processing train. This allows them to be constantly evaluating the data and operating conditions from the facility in real-time and continuously enhancing the operations, both through incremental day-to-day as well as step-change disruptive improvements,” stated ABTC CEO Ryan Melsert. “We’re incredibly proud of this team who have taken ownership of the success of this facility as we move to 24/7 operations.”

The ABTC recycling facility utilizes a first-of-kind integrated set of recycling processes based on a strategic de-manufacturing approach that utilizes a deconstruction process combined with a targeted selective hydrometallurgical process. This system is agnostic to feedstock form factors and can process lithiumion batteries and manufacturing scrap of a variety of sizes and shapes, and with a wide range of internal chemistries. The first phase of the recycling process produces recycled products that includes copper, aluminum, steel, a lithium intermediate, and a black mass intermediate material, and the integrated second phase further refines these materials into battery grade nickel sulfate, cobalt sulfate, manganese sulfate, and lithium hydroxide.

“Having in-house expertise is critical to our continued success and ability to rapidly advance our operations, and I am extremely proud of the tenacity, creativity, and collaboration demonstrated by our team every day,” said ABTC COO Andrés Meza. “Pushing this volume of material through a fully customized, large-scale, complex system is no easy feat, and I am extremely pleased with how smoothly the system is performing overall. Our reliability improvements are paying dividends, and we are now laser-focused on sustainable rate improvements, further operational expenditure reductions, and cost efficiencies through automation.”

The company is already in the process of implementing the second phase of this integrated recycling facility, where the lithium intermediate from its first phase process will be further refined into a battery grade lithium hydroxide product, and the black mass intermediate material will be further refined into battery grade nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium hydroxide products.

The company’s battery recycling technologies utilized at this recycling facility were developed in-house by the ABTC R&D, engineering, and technical projects team members, many of whom were previously members of the founding Tesla Gigafactory design and engineering teams. These ABTC team members have significant experience scaling processes and bringing first-of-kind commercial-scale facilities online and have leveraged this expertise to de-risk ABTC’s commercialization of its battery recycling facility. The teams work symbiotically to drive the development and implementation of ABTC’s first-of-kind technologies and commercial-scale facilities for domestic critical battery material manufacturing.

ABTC has been validating and optimizing its first-of-kind recycling technologies for several years, and has showcased its innovation through winning the battery recycling portion of the competitively awarded BASF-sponsored Circularity Challenge; through a battery recycling grant from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), which is comprised of the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis for a commercial-scale project currently underway to demonstrate that recycled battery metal products from domestic U.S. resources can be produced at lower cost than, and at significantly improved social and environmental impact, than conventionally mined virgin minerals; and through a competitive U.S. DOE grant for a project to develop and commercialize a set of Next Generation battery recycling technologies to even further enhance the recovery of recycled products and reduce the cost of operations.

Additionally, the company has recently been selected for two competitively awarded tax credits totaling over $60 million through the Qualifying Advanced Energy Project Credits program (48C) for the reimbursement of capital expenses at its current Nevada recycling facility, to support the capital expenditures for the second phase processes at this facility, and to support the construction of a significantly larger additional battery recycling facility to process material from new strategic suppliers.