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Aqua Metals, Inc., which is commercializing a non-polluting electrochemical lead recycling technology called AquaRefining™, held an open house at its first AquaRefinery at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in McCarran, Nevada. AquaRefining is the world’s first environmentally friendly process to recycle lead-acid batteries (LABs).

“The first AquaRefinery at TRIC is an exciting start to a cleaner future for the lead industry,” said Stephen Clarke, chief executive officer of Aqua Metals. “Lead-acid batteries are over 99 percent recyclable, but until now, there has been no way to recycle lead in an environmentally friendly fashion. With this AquaRefinery and more expected to come, Aqua Metals is doing its part to create the most sustainable battery technology the world has ever seen, while also providing economic benefits to recyclers, manufacturers and distributors.”

The proprietary AquaRefining technology extracts lead from LABs with a room temperature, closed-loop, water-based process that results in vast reductions of hazardous waste and direct human contact with the lead itself. The process produces lead that is as pure as – or purer than – mined lead, requiring no secondary processing. Battery Systems Inc. has a 200,000 sq.ft. battery distribution and collection facility adjacent to Aqua Metals’ TRIC facility. Interstate Batteries, which made a $10 million investment into Aqua Metals, has already committed to provide used LABs to recycle at the facility. Interstate Batteries controls 20 percent of the lead-acid battery recycling market in the United States.

The AquaRefinery will create more than 50 permanent jobs at TRIC, and has the potential to expand recycling capacity to 160 tons of lead per day by 2018. Aqua Metals owns 12 acres of land in McCarran around the facility. The AquaRefinery was partially financed by a $10 million loan from Green Bank, which was 90 percent guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The facility was also financed by a $36.2 million Nasdaq-listed initial public offering in July 2015.

Aqua Metals will operate the first AquaRefinery and plans to sell licenses to partners for AquaRefining technology and equipment, which can be co-located with battery manufacturers and distributors, as well as existing battery recycling facilities globally.

Published in the October 2016 Edition of American Recycler News