Aqua Metals’ $30M battery recycling plant breaks ground in Nevada

While the technology behind Aqua Metals is not directly connected to modern lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries, it’s hard to deny that the California company will be in good company with its new facility. Aqua Metals has broken ground on a $30-million battery recycling plant in Nevada that federal officials say will be the first of its kind in the world. Aqua Metals is building the plant at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center east of Reno where Tesla Motors is building its electric battery factory.

The US Department of Agriculture guaranteed a $10 million business loan for the Oakland-based company to complete the world’s first commercial-scale electro-chemical lead battery and recycling plant. Aqua Metals officials say the technology they call “AquaRefining” is more efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional recycling.

USDA Rural Development spokeswoman Kelly Clark told the Reno Gazette-Journal it uses a new water-based process to remove the lead instead of smelters that create toxic waste Operations are expected to begin in 2016.

The RGJ said that Tesla’s upcoming Gigafactory will have an important “impact on Reno’s reputation as a place to do business for companies looking to expand.”

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