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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Nevada Facility Begins ‘Clean Lead Recycling,’ Could Lead to Sustainable Lead-Acid Batteries

Recycling and refining high-quality lead has commenced in Nevada, and will soon reach commercial-scale production. Aqua Metals has used its patent-pending ‘AquaRefining’ technology, which the company is calling “the only clean lead recycling method.”

Unlike smelting, AquaRefining uses a water-based, room-temperature process to produce lead. Aqua Metals says the process is “fundamentally non-polluting,” and has verified verified that the lead produced in the AquaRefining module is over 99.99 percent pure. The company expects its AquaRefining systems to allow the lead-acid battery industry to simultaneously reduce negative environmental impacts and increase production to meet rapidly growing demand.

“This is a major milestone – not just for our company, but for the entire industry,” said Dr. Stephen R. Clarke, Chairman and CEO of Aqua Metals. “Our commercial-scale AquaRefining modules have the potential to revolutionize lead recycling and make lead-acid batteries the only truly sustainable battery technology.”

Aqua Metals manufactures AquaRefining modules at its headquarters in Alameda, California. So far, five have been shipped to the company’s facility in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Nevada, but there are plans to install a total of 16 for an initial production capacity of 80 metric tons of lead per day. Aqua Metals anticipates reaching this capacity “within the coming months.”

“We are confident that our lead products will exceed the most rigorous industry specifications,” Clarke added. “Over the coming weeks we plan to fully integrate the front-end battery-breaking portion of the facility.”

The company is in the process of sending its initial production samples to several battery manufacturing companies in the United States that collectively represent over 50 percent of national battery production, so the manufacturers can conduct their own assays of the lead produced through the module. Aqua Metals has formed strategic partnerships with Interstate Batteries and Battery Systems International and is in discussions other manufacturers and recyclers, as well as data center operators and household internet brands, which use lead-acid batteries for backup power.


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