The battery recycling company Blue Whale Materials (BWM) from Washington, D.C., says it wants to build at least five recycling plants for lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles in the US and Europe together with the investor Ara Partners.
Ara Partners, which specialises in industrial decarbonisation, is investing $80 million in Blue Whale Materials as an equity commitment to support the buildout of BWM’s recycling facilities. The company last autumn closed its second fund with approximately $1.1 billion in capital commitments, so BWM receives about 7%.
BWM recycles lithium-ion batteries to recover cobalt, nickel, manganese, lithium and other elements and has a commercial plant in Asia. The latter applies what BWM calls a “proprietary, leading-edge technology” without disclosing further details in the statement. Their website only reveals a “blacksand” product containing cobalt, nickel, and lithium. In the recycling industry, blacksand comes from grinding and then separating battery materials. Ara estimates the BWM process could save 75% carbon emissions compared to battery production with newly mined materials.
Robert Kang, BWM’s CEO, said they were proud to partner with Ara since the investor “has the experience in scaling manufacturing operations and building sustainable businesses.” No mention is made of the envisioned recycling capacity, existing clients, or potential locations.
BWM and Ara also state the BWM team has “deep experience in the battery recycling industry, including in Asia where their technology was developed and validated.” The company appears to have been around since 2019.
“The BWM team has the operational experience, strategic relationships and motivation to build a leading LIB recycling platform domestically,” said Tuan Tran, a Partner at Ara Partners. He also called the market opportunity “tremendous”.
Naturally, other companies are looking at the US market as well. Recently, ACE Green Recycling, another American company, had announced a total of four battery recycling facilities in the States, Thailand and India as reported.
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