India’s lithium battery recycling sector is preparing to receive new US investments aimed at establishing two plants in the world’s third largest emissions producing country. US industrial waste recycling startup ACE Green has revealed details of setting up two plants in India’s Mundra Pradesh and Gujarat states, according to pv magazine. The company’s plans indicate that these plants will recycle used lithium batteries to extract usable metal materials from them in a less polluting way, according to the specialized energy platform.
ACE Green plans to set up a chain of plants to recycle lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries in India, Thailand and the United States. These plants are expected to be completed by 2024, with a maximum production capacity of 1.6 million tons of metals containing lead, lithium, nickel and cobalt. ACE Green hopes to operate its first commercial lithium battery recycling facility in Ghaziabad, India, during this December/December 2022. It also expects to start operating a second Indian facility, in Mundra Pradesh, during the last quarter of 2023, coinciding with the launch of Operating the company’s main factory in the US state of Texas. The American company has not yet disclosed any financial details regarding the two plants to be established in India, according to the specialized energy platform.
ACE Green has signed an agreement with the British-Swiss company Glencore, one of the world’s largest mining companies, to purchase its recycling products for a period of 15 years. The agreement provides for Glencore to purchase 100% of ACE Green’s products, with battery recycling plants planned to be launched in the US, India and Thailand once they are operational on a commercial scale. The agreement includes the purchase of recycled lead metal extracts, as well as finished products extracted from lithium-ion batteries, according to the specialized energy platform.
Lithium-ion batteries are used in smartphones, laptops, and cameras, as well as in some medical products such as earphones and pacemakers. It is also used in solar energy projects to store the resulting electricity, in addition to the manufacture of electric cars. NASA plans to use this type of battery – for the first time – in the production of the first electric aircraft, as part of plans to rid the atmosphere of fossil fuel-dependent aviation emissions. These batteries are characterized by high efficiency in charging and recharging, but they still represent a source of environmental pollution due to their poor ability to be fully recycled, in addition to the weak safety factors resulting from their use, according to what was monitored by the specialized energy platform.
The American company expects that the primary production capacity of its recycling units will reach 250,000 tons of lead-acid batteries and 47,000 tons of lithium-ion batteries annually. The British-Swiss company Glencore has shown remarkable interest in investing in start-up companies specializing in the recycling of lithium-ion batteries over the past years. On May 5, 2022, the company announced the signing of a similar long-term partnership agreement with the Canadian company “Le Cycle”, which specializes in recycling lithium-ion batteries, with investments amounting to $ 200 million. The battery recycling sector is witnessing increasing investment interest from European and American governments, as well as the emergence of emerging companies that are competing to innovate more environmentally friendly technologies in the field of recycling. The lead battery recycling industry is worth an estimated $17.5 billion a year, of which only a small portion has so far been captured by start-ups, according to the specialist energy platform.
ACE Green is proud to have been among the first to introduce new lead recycling technologies that are less polluting than traditional forms of scrap smelting. Conventional battery recycling plants usually use superheated ovens above 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,000 degrees Celsius). This results in huge amounts of pollutants that, in many cases, leak into the groundwater in poor countries and threaten the public health of millions of people and children. The lead battery recycling sector contributes to providing 70% of the global lead supply, but this sector is still classified as one of the most polluting industries. ACE Green relies on new technologies that use water, electricity, and some chemicals in addition to heat in the process of purifying lead and extracting it from used and expired batteries, after separating the plastic materials and recycling them separately. The company says that its use of electricity helps it operate at room temperature, and reduces emissions and effluent almost completely.
ACE Green relies within its business on contracting with battery manufacturers to recycle used batteries, whether made of lead or lithium-ion. The French company Schneider Electric, one of the largest manufacturers of car batteries in India, supplies about 200 tons of used batteries to the American company every month. ACE Green says that the quantities supplied from the French company result in 120 tons of lead after purification and are sold back to the supplier. In April 2021, ACE Green announced the signing of an agreement with Ultras Corporation of Singapore to recycle 5,000 tons of lead-acid batteries annually, with an investment of $5 million. ACE Green has similar agreements with 4 recycling companies in 11 countries, with a recycling volume of 90,000 tons per year of lead batteries. The company expects to produce 56,000 tons of refined lead from these projects, and plans to build a plant to recycle 12,000 tons annually in Australia, in addition to other plans in Malaysia, according to the specialized energy platform.