Aqua Metals reinvents lead recycling with new AquaRefining technology

US-based Aqua Metals Inc. is reinventing lead recycling with its new AquaRefining technology.
Tim Reckmann,

Aqua Metals has recently delivered and installed its first AquaRefining technology to its newly constructed 135,000-square-foot lead recycling facility in northern Nevada’s Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC). The module is one of 16 modules that will be installed in the facility.

“The beauty of lead is that unlike any other battery type it is 100% recyclable,” said Steve Cotton, chief commercial officer of Aqua Metals.

Lead recycling is typically done though a process called smelting. Smelting is a highly toxic and highly polluting process as the batteries are being heated at high temperatures to extract the lead.

Aqua Metals’ AquaRefining method uses a room temperature, efficient water-based process to get almost 100% of the lead out of batteries in an environmentally friendly, non-hazardous, continuous process that is powered already by 40% renewable energy, Cotton said.

The modules are designed to be easily manufactured and transported. It is the Aqua Metals’ goal to make AquaRefining the new standard method for recycling lead. “We designed it in such a way to effectively mass produce it,” Cotton said.

Aqua Metals broke ground on their first lead recycling facility in Storey County back in August 2015. The firm plans to have 70 employees in the new facility working between four shifts.

Cotton said that the lead recycling facility in TRIC is the first of many for Aqua Metals. The company is currently evaluating the best location for their next facility, he said. Aqua Metals also anticipates that it will double its capacity within the TRIC building by 2018.


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