Ascend Elements and SK ecoplant build battery recycling plant in the US
The US battery-materials company Ascend Elements, the South Korean company SK Ecoplant and its subsidiary TES are joining forces. Together, they are building a 65 million dollar battery recycling plant in Hopkinsville in the US state of Kentucky.
Construction will kick off as early as November, while completion is scheduled for January 2025. Once commissioned, the plant will have the capacity to recycle up to 12,000 tones of black mass from used EV batteries scrap from battery factories. Ascend Elements will use the recycled materials for its battery materials production.
As reported, the company is building a battery materials facility, also located in Hopkinsville, alled Apex 1. According to the newest announcement, the latter will be operational next year and, at full capacity, produce enough cathode material and precursors for up to 750,000 electric vehicle batteries per year. That is three times as much as the company had communicated in 2022.
The new battery recycling plant will be 64 per cent owned by SK Ecoplant, an offshoot of South Korean conglomerate SK Group. Ascend Elements will hold 25 per cent of the shares in the new joint venture and TES the remaining eleven per cent.
“This is just the beginning of an entirely new industry in the United States. For every new EV battery gigafactory that is built, we will need to build a new battery recycling facility to process manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries,” says Mike O’Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements. “This is a capital intensive endeavor, so joint ventures between strategically aligned partners is an ideal way to fund new infrastructure projects.”
In March 2023, Ascend Elements commissioned its first commercial-scale lithium-ion battery recycling plant in the US state of Georgia. According to Ascend Elements, the so-called ‘Base 1’ is North America’s largest recycling plant for electric vehicle batteries. Up to 30,000 tonnes of batteries can be processed there annually, which is said to be equivalent to around 70,000 e-vehicle batteries.