Ascend Elements raises $300 million

US-based Ascend Elements has raised funding totalling $300 million. The company began building its factory to produce sustainable battery materials for electric vehicles in southwestern Kentucky a few days ago.

The funding raised includes $200 million in investments as part of the company’s Series C financing round led by Fifth Wall Climate. Joining the round as a new investor is SK Ecoplant, a unit of the South Korean conglomerate SK Group. The Korean company has alone reportedly invested $50 million. Many investors from previous financing rounds also participated in the latest round, including Hitachi and Jaguar Land Rover.

Ascend Elements recently received two grants from the US Department of Energy, totalling $480 million. Of this, just over $310 million is earmarked for the construction of the Kentucky factory. The Hopkinsville plant, construction of which has now begun, will use the company’s “hydro-to-cathode” technology, which processes black matter from recycled electric vehicle batteries directly into new cathode materials – without the usual intermediate step of hydrometallurgically splitting the black matter into the individual materials to then produce new cathode materials.

“Our investment partners understand the urgent need to produce sustainable, lithium-ion battery materials,” said Ascend Elements CEO Mike O’Kronley. “It’s not enough to simply recycle lithium-ion batteries and recover metals for the global commodity markets. Our patented, closed-loop process goes beyond simple battery recycling. Instead, we produce sustainable, high-performance cathode active materials that can go directly back into new EV batteries.”

According to Ascend Elements, the company has already started generating revenue by processing end-of-life batteries and manufacturing scrap at its “Base 1” facility in Georgia. This facility is meant to have 30,000 metric tons of EV battery recycling capacity by the end of 2022. The Georgia facility should eventually feed the Apex 1 facility in Kentucky. The company’s aim is to recycle more than 150,000 metric tons of lithium-ion batteries per year globally by 2026.

“Securing the recyclability of critical, valuable metals in batteries is an essential avenue to achieve energy independence from fossil fuels,” said Peter Gajdoš, Fifth Wall Partner and Co-Lead of the Climate Investment team. “We’re proud to support Ascend Elements as they create sustainable batteries in both automotive and stationary storage.”


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