Aqua Metals, Inc., which is commercializing a non-polluting electrochemical lead recycling technology called AquaRefining, held an open house at its first AquaRefinery at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in McCarran, Nevada. AquaRefining is the world’s first environmentally friendly process to recycle lead-acid batteries (LABs).
“The first AquaRefinery at TRIC is an exciting start to a cleaner future for the lead industry,” said Stephen Clarke, CEO of Aqua Metals. “Lead-acid batteries are over 99 percent recyclable, but until now, there has been no way to recycle lead in an environmentally friendly fashion. With this AquaRefinery and more expected to come, Aqua Metals is doing its part to create the most sustainable battery technology the world has ever seen, while also providing economic benefits to recyclers, manufacturers and distributors.”
The proprietary AquaRefining technology extracts lead from LABs with a room temperature, closed-loop, water-based process that results in vast reductions of hazardous waste and direct human contact with the lead itself. The process produces lead that is as pure as – or purer than – mined lead, requiring no secondary processing. Battery Systems Inc. has a 200,000 square foot battery distribution and collection facility adjacent to Aqua Metals’ TRIC facility. Interstate Batteries, which made a $10 million investment into Aqua Metals, has already committed to provide used LABs to recycle at the facility. Interstate Batteries controls 20 percent of the lead-acid battery recycling market in the US.
The AquaRefinery will create more than 50 permanent jobs at TRIC, and has the potential to expand recycling capacity to 160 tonnes of lead per day by 2018. Aqua Metals owns 12 acres of land in McCarran around the facility. The AquaRefinery was partially financed by a $10 million loan from Green Bank, which was 90 percent guaranteed by the US Department of Agriculture. The facility was also financed by a $36.2 million Nasdaq-listed initial public offering in July 2015.
“Aqua Metals has been an excellent partner, from the location selection process, HQ visit, and facility groundbreaking less than one year ago, to today,” said Storey County Manager, Pat Whitten. “Storey County is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Aqua Metals team as they launch the first ever AquaRefinery and bring valuable jobs to Storey County. We look forward to working with Aqua Metals to make the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center a hub for clean, safe lead recycling.”
Aqua Metals will operate the first AquaRefinery and plans to sell licenses to partners for AquaRefining technology and equipment, which can be co-located with battery manufacturers and distributors, as well as existing battery recycling facilities globally.
“This first-ever AquaRefinery has the potential to change our industry, and our planet,” said Scott Miller, president and CEO of Interstate Batteries. “While we’ve been in the battery business for more than six decades, Interstate continues to seek out innovation and invest in technology for today, and tomorrow. Because Aqua Metals’ breakthrough technology is so promising, Interstate Batteries is supplying more than a million automotive and other lead-acid batteries to the AquaRefinery over the next year. We feel we’re making a smart investment in our future, and in the future of our industry.”
“Upon the opening of the AquaRefinery, our batteries will be recycled close to home,” said Brad Streelman, president and CEO of Battery Systems. “As the AquaRefinery is adjacent to our location at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, we will be able to distribute, recover and recycle our high quality lead-acid batteries without transportation waste or supply chain complexity. The AquaRefining technology will make it possible for lead recycling facilities to be close to, or even co-located with, battery manufacturers and distributors – filling a significant gap in the industry.”