Ascend Elements supplies recycled cathode material to Freudenberg

The US company Ascend Elements, which specializes in the production of battery materials from black mass, has delivered its first recycled cathode material to the US plant of German supplier Freudenberg e-Power Systems in Midland, Michigan. The material is now being validated at Freudenberg for use in commercial vehicle batteries.

Image: Ascend Elements

The delivered precursor materials (pCAM) and cathode active materials (CAM), were obtained using Ascend Element’s “hydro-to-cathode” process, with which the company aims to reduce the carbon footprint of new cathode materials for electric vehicle batteries by up to 90 per cent. The 90 per cent reduction is to be achieved by 2030. A life cycle analysis recently carried out by an independent third party showed that the current reduction is as much as 49 per cent.

Ascend Elements’ low-carbon cathode material will have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of Freudenberg e-Power Systems’ batteries since cathode material is the single largest contributor to a lithium-ion battery cell’s carbon footprint.

With this process, Ascend Elements wants to be able to process the black mass from recycled electric vehicle batteries directly into new cathode materials – without the usual intermediate step of hydrometallurgically splitting the black mass into the individual materials in order to then produce new cathode materials. This should save up to 15 process steps.

The pCAM was obtained at Ascend Elements’ pilot plant in Westborough, Massachusetts. The material was then sintered and processed into CAM at another site in Novi, Michigan, before being delivered to the Freudenberg e-Power Systems plant in Midland, also in Michigan. The German supplier acquired this plant as part of the takeover of Xalt Energy. Xalt Energy manufactures cells, packs and system solutions for heavy commercial vehicles and ships there, and Ascend Elements and Freudenberg e-Power Systems announced their cooperation last year.

Although Ascend Elements is still processing the material in Massachusetts and Michigan, these materials will soon be produced in Kentucky, where Ascend Elements is building the “Apex 1” plant, which will cost around one billion dollars. This is due to go into operation at the beginning of 2025 and will later produce enough pCAM and CAM for 750,000 electric vehicles per year.

“This is a relatively small shipment in relation to the intended full-scale commercial program, but it’s an important milestone for Ascend Elements and the US battery materials industry,” said Eric Gratz, PhD, CTO and Co-founder of Ascend Elements.

The validation and potential use of recycled material in new batteries is not only desirable and an important step from a sustainability perspective, but also politically significant: cathode materials made from recycled battery metals can help electric vehicle battery manufacturers qualify for US tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

“Battery manufacturers in the United States are starting to use engineered battery materials that are made in America from recycled metals,” said Gratz. “Engineered cathode material is normally made in Asia using material from mined sources. Now we’re making it domestically from recycled EV batteries and production scrap while generating just half the carbon footprint.”,


about „Ascend Elements supplies recycled cathode material to Freudenberg“

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *