Aqua Metals has secured a $10 million loan to build a facility to recycle lead batteries near Reno, Nev.
The Alameda, Calif.-based Aqua Metals received the loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and Green Bank to build its first AquaRefinery at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC), according to a news release.
Rather than traditional smelting as a lead battery recycling method, AquaMetals will employ its continuous electrochemical system, called AquaRefining, which it claims is safe and environmentally friendly.
The process packages the lead into a brick that can be reused.
The company will produce lead at 80 metric tons per day and then 160 metric tons per day by 2018. The cost of the new facility is estimated at $29.6 million.
Aqua Metals plans to apply the proceeds to expand its lead recycling capacity.
“Demand for our recycling capacity has been strong,” said Stephen Clarke, Aqua Metals chairman and CEO. “This USDA backed loan provides Aqua Metals a key piece of financing with which to expand our initial AquaRefinery.”
Aqua Metals called the traditional smelting process one of the top three most polluting industrial processes in the world, for the planet’s most common type of battery.
Lead-acid batteries have the highest recycling rate of any product sold in the United States; the most recent data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts the rate at 95.9 percent. The high rate is because of the value of the lead and plastic components of the used battery, the ease of returning a used battery when purchasing a new battery, and laws in 39 states requiring the retailer take back the used battery when a new battery is purchased, according to a recent Waste360’s Profiles in Garbage report.