CEFC backs battery recycling startup Renewable Metals

Pile of lithium ion batteries ready for recycling (AGL battery)
Image: Shutterstock

Australian battery recycling startup Renewable Metals has closed an $8 million investment round to scale and commercialise its groundbreaking lithium-ion battery recycling technology, backed by the CEFC and leading Asia Pacific and US-based investors.

The CEFC investment is managed by Virescent Ventures. The investment round will support Renewable Metals in the development of a pilot plant in Perth, bringing forward the construction of a larger scale demonstration plant capable of processing up to 1,500 tonnes of battery waste annually.

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Renewable Metals has developed a more sustainable and efficient process to recycle all formats of lithium-ion batteries, from large batter​y packs​ currently used in electric vehicles (EVs) and home stationary storage batteries, as well as small consumer electronic batteries. The process has the potential to recover more of the critical minerals that support electrification, help address battery waste and strengthen Australia’s circular economy.

The Renewable Metals technology uses an alkaline leaching that eliminates the need to pre-process battery cells to ‘black mass’ as found in existing battery recycling processes. The simpler extraction method developed by Renewable Metals uses less ​​chemicals to recover critical battery materials and produces less waste, reducing processing costs by up to 30% compared to competitors. ​​According to Renewable Metals, this process has achieved metal recovery rates that are higher than its competitors, particularly for lithium.

Related article: New membrane tech promises cleaner, cheaper, faster lithium

The Renewable Metals technology can recover the valuable critical materials from batteries including lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper​ and​ manganese and can be applied to ​different ​battery chemistr​ies​. Importantly, the technology has the potential to recycle lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) batteries, which make up a growing share of batteries used in EVs and which are currently too expensive to recycle through existing technology.

Some highly valuable battery materials can be recycled indefinitely, reprocessed and reused, reducing reliance on mining for new resources. In 2021, only 10% of Australia’s lithium-ion battery waste was recycled, compared to 99% of lead battery waste.

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