Washington, DC-based battery recycling company Blue Whale Materials (BWM) says it wants to build at least five electric vehicle lithium-ion battery recycling plants in the United States and Europe with investor Ara Partners.
Ara Partners, which specializes in industrial decarbonization, is investing $80 million in Blue Whale Materials as an equity commitment to support the construction of BWM’s recycling facilities. Last fall, the company closed its second fund with about $1.1 billion in capital commitments, so BWM receives about 7%.
BWM recycles lithium-ion batteries to recover cobalt, nickel, manganese, lithium and other elements and has a commercial plant in Asia. The latter applies what BWM calls “state-of-the-art proprietary technology” without disclosing further details in the statement. Their website only reveals a “black sand” product containing cobalt, nickel and lithium. In the recycling industry, black sand comes from crushing and then separating battery materials. Ara estimates that the BWM process could save 75% carbon emissions compared to producing batteries with newly mined materials.
Robert Kang, CEO of BWM, said they were proud to partner with Ara as the investor “has experience scaling manufacturing operations and building sustainable businesses.” No mention is made of envisioned recycling capacity, existing customers or potential locations.
BWM and Ara also state that the BWM team has “extensive experience in the battery recycling industry, including in Asia where their technology was developed and validated.” The company appears to have been around since 2019.
“The BWM team has the operational experience, strategic relationships and motivation to build a leading domestic LIB recycling platform,” said Tuan Tran, Partner at Ara Partners. He also called the market opportunity “tremendous.”
Naturally, other companies are also looking to the US market. Recently, ACE Green Recycling, another US company, had announced a total of four battery recycling facilities in the US, Thailand and India as noted.