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October 13, 2022

Westborough EV recycling firm signs South Korean firm as key customer

Photo | Courtesy of Ascend Elements Ascend Elements recycles electric vehicle batteries.

Westborough-based battery recycling company Ascend Elements reached an agreement with the South Korean battery company EcoPro Group to purchase recycled battery materials for EcoPro’s products.

EcoPro provides cathode active material, which is lithium and metal, to electric vehicle battery manufacturers in North America. Ascend recycles EV batteries and battery scraps from manufacturing and transforms the scraps into new materials. Under the new partnership, Ascend will provide EcoPro with recycled battery material so it can convert those materials into new battery-ready materials for its battery manufacturing clients, according to a Thursday press release from Ascend.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

This is Ascend’s second deal with a South Korean company in as many months, after in September Ascend received a $50-million investment from SK ecoplant, to help commercialize Ascend’s hydro-to-cathode process technology.

Battery materials can be costly to the environment as it requires mining, conversion, and refining of materials due to the need to use fossil-fueled machines to mine, as well as chemicals and lots of water. The process to synthesize the batteries requires a lot of energy, which can only be produced by burning fossil fuels. By creating a closed-loop with recycled materials, manufacturers don’t need to mine for as many new raw materials.  

The new process will also include SK Battery America, which makes batteries for the Ford F-15 Lightning and VW ID.4.EV. Ascend Elements receives manufacturing scrap from the SK Battery America plant in Georgia and will recycle the material at its Covington, Georgia, facility, recovering recycled battery materials like metals, salts, and precursor cathode material. EcoPro purchases the recycled battery material from Ascend and uses the material to make new cathode active material, which SK Battery America will purchase and use to make EV batteries for Ford and VW.

Ascend can recover up to 98% of critical battery elements with lower carbon emissions compared to traditional cathode manufacturing methods, according to the company.

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