By Paul Ploumis
SPOKANE (Scrap Monster): Oakland, California-based Aqua Metals Inc. has announced first production of lead from its Bay Area, Nevada battery recycling plant located in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in McCarran. The company press release claimed that the lead produced in its flagship Nevada facility using patent-pending AquaRefining technology was more than 99.99% pure. The samples of initial production will now be sent to various battery manufacturing companies for appraisal.
According to Stephen R. Clarke, chairman and CEO of Aqua Metals, the production marks a major milestone for the company and also for the entire industry. The company’s state-of-the-art recycling technique is expected to revolutionize lead recycling. He congratulated the entire team for their efforts to commence production as per schedule. Further, he expressed confidence that its lead products will exceed the most rigorous industry specifications. Clarke noted that this was the most critical step in the commissioning process and that it plans to integrate the front-end battery-breaking portion of the facility over the forthcoming weeks.
The company had purchased 11.7 acres of land for the facility in June last year. The ground-breaking ceremony of the facility was held during end-August 2015. The $29.6 million AquaRefinery battery recycling plant is spread over 125,000 square-feet building. The plant has set initial production capacity of 80 metric tons per day by end-2016 and is expected to double its production to 160 metric tons per day by 2018, thereby creating additional rural jobs in the region. The company has so far delivered five modules to its Nevada facility. It plans to install a total of 16 modules, which will make it ready to achieve the initial production capacity of 80 metric tons a day.
The plant employs patented AquaRefining technology which ensures higher product yield and better product at minimized operation cost. When compared with the traditional smelting process, the technology eliminates toxic waste such as lead dust, sulfur dioxide and greenhouse gases, the company claims. The AquaRefining technology also reduces production cost significantly. It uses electro-chemical process to produce lead from recovered batteries, mostly from automobiles.
The collected batteries will be fed to a machine which will tear them apart, separating the liquid sulfuric acid in tanks and plastic casing. This will be converted into pellets and recycled. The process also separates hard metallic lead alloy, melts them and turn into ingots. It produces pure lead paste from the recycled lead. The company has already partnered with Interstate Batteries and Battery Systems so as to ensure supply of old batteries to the plant. Interstate Batteries has invested nearly $10 million into Aqua Metals and has agreed to supply more than 1 million automotive and other lead-acid batteries to be recycled at Aqua Metals’ AquaRefineries.
Aqua Metals is based in Alameda, California. The company makes use of fundamentally non-polluting, water-based, room temperature process, unlike smelting, thereby reducing negative environmental impacts.