Millions of vehicles are equipped with or directly powered by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, mitigating environmental pollution and reducing energy use. This rapidly increasing use of Li-ion batteries in vehicles will introduce a large quantity of spent units within a short span of time. Put simply, a proper handling of end-of-life vehicle Li-ion batteries is the need of the hour. In this regard, a Bengaluru-based urban mining startup, Metastable Materials, has come up with a unique solution. It has introduced a battery recycling process that can extract copper, aluminum, cobalt, nickel, lithium, and other metals from dead Lithium-ion batteries.
Founded in 2021 by Shubham Vishwakarma, Metastable Materials specialises in recycling of lithium-ion batteries. It is now scaling up its battery recycling capabilities with the opening of a 21,000 sq ft urban mining facility with yearly material processing capacity of 1500 tonnes located on the outskirts of Bengaluru. The startup is the first to deploy a chemical-free integrated carbothermal reduction (ICR) process for battery recycling that extracts valuable materials out of lithium-ion batteries. The battery treatment methodology used by Metastable Materials significantly reduces capital and operational expenditure in comparison to the conventional battery recycling practices, along with recovery rate of over 90% for the constituent materials.
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“We will actively ramp up production capabilities of processing 5 tonnes of raw materials per day during the course of the next few quarters,” said Shubham Vishwakarma, founder and chief of process engineering, Metastable Materials. The new unit is capable of providing a sustainable end-to-end one-stop solution for managing end-of-life lithium-ion batteries”, he added. The facility has intensive quality control and material handling capabilities in order to facilitate and manage ‘waste-as-ore’ concept-based recycling of hazardous end-of-life batteries and products. In the near future, it will also be doubling up as an on-site R&D centre .
The startup aims to bridge the gap between the supply and demand of rare metals like cobalt, nickel and lithium. With the extraction of metals from dead Li-ion batteries based on its ICR process, Metastable is providing a sustainable alternative to freshly mined metals and attempting to integrate them with the existing industrial supply chains.
Metastable Materials has already received interest from several key players in the market for both supply of end-of-life batteries for processing and the purchase of the extracted materials out of them, Vishvakarma informed.