Aqua Metals and 6K Energy have announced a partnership aimed at developing the next generation of low-carbon battery materials and establishing a long-term agreement for 6K Energy’s PlusCAM™ cathode material manufacturing plant. Both companies share the vision of creating a domestic low-carbon supply chain for critical battery materials and advancing cost-effective production methods for sustainable lithium-ion batteries.
This groundbreaking partnership combines Aqua Metals’ innovative conversion and recycling processes with 6K Energy’s ultra-sustainable cathode manufacturing capabilities, thereby setting a new standard for minimizing emissions in lithium battery manufacturing.
Cathode active material (CAM) is the most expensive component in a lithium battery, and it is currently manufactured almost exclusively in China. By integrating the low-carbon technology for converting critical metals into battery-grade CAM precursors, this partnership not only creates low-carbon resources for battery and electric vehicle manufacturers but also enables greater supply independence at a competitive cost and less production time than imported materials from foreign sources.
Aqua Metals and 6K Energy are addressing the primary challenge of next-generation battery manufacturing by fostering a future where sustainable, high-performance lithium batteries are made in the U.S. from domestically sourced materials. Aqua Metals is leading the development of the innovative conversion process, designed to replace chemical catalysts with clean electricity, and enables the sustainable production of cost-effective CAM precursors by eliminating embedded emissions, recurring expenses, and chemical waste byproducts.
6K Energy was recently awarded a $50 million Department of Energy (DOE) grant opportunity that will partially fund the $200+ million PlusCAM factory in Jackson, TN, scheduled to open in 2025. The conversion process already in development is based on Aqua Metals’ patented and commercially-proven AquaRefining™ technology and is designed to work with both virgin materials and sustainably recycled content supplied by Aqua Metals. Upon successful completion of the development project, a long-term supply agreement between the two companies will be established.
The companies plan to co-locate precursor CAM (pCAM) manufacturing with 6K Energy’s PlusCAM factory, which will be the world’s first UniMelt® plasma cathode manufacturing plant, providing low-cost, ultra-sustainable production of battery material in the U.S., with a production capacity of 13,000 tons per annum (tpa).
Aqua Metals currently operates the world’s first sustainable lithium battery recycling facility at its Li AquaRefining™ pilot and is developing a five-acre, 10,000tpa clean metals recycling campus nearby in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.
Aqua Metals’ patented AquaRefining recycling technology recovers critical metals from spent lithium batteries using electricity in a closed loop, lowering emissions and reducing landfill waste by 95% compared to current battery recycling processes.
This partnership signifies a major step towards U.S. leadership in the next generation of net-zero battery materials and technologies, as it combines the expertise of Aqua Metals and 6K Energy in creating a circular supply chain for critical battery materials. This is especially important for EV and battery manufacturers looking to reduce the climate impact of raw materials supply and increase the amount of domestic content.
This collaboration will pave the way for a more sustainable, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly production of lithium-ion batteries, build new industrial competencies in the U.S., and help in meeting the demands of the rapidly growing clean energy and electric vehicle markets.