Commercial scale production milestone for lead-acid battery recycling technology


An “AquaRefining” module with six electrolyzer units producing refined lead, claimed to be 99.99 percent pure.

The Californian firm behind what is said to be the only clean lead recycling method – which therefore holds out the possibility of making lead-acid batteries a truly sustainable technology – announced in early November that it had produced the first ever refined lead from its process.

Alameda-based Aqua Metals has produced the first-ever “AquaRefined” lead at its flagship refinery in McCarran, Nevada. Dubbed “AquaRefining” by the firm, the process is water-based and runs at room-temperature.

As the firm’s website explains, the process uses an entirely reusable water-based technology to produce ingots of “ultrapure” lead. The lead produced is claimed to be over 99.99 percent pure. The company plans to send its initial production samples to several US battery manufacturing companies—which collectively represent over 50 percent of US battery production—to allow them to conduct their own measurements.

The effectiveness of the technology has previously been demonstrated at bench scale, pilot scale and with a single, full-size electrolyzer, says Aqua Metals, and this early November announcement appears to be an important miletone in establishing its commercial scale viability.

“This is the most critical step in the commissioning process of the Nevada AquaRefinery,” said Dr Stephen Clarke, Chairman and CEO of Aqua Metals.. “Over the coming weeks we plan to fully integrate the front-end battery-breaking portion of the facility.”

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