Ascend Elements Secures $542M Series D Funding For Battery Recycling Expansion


Ascend Elements, an eight-year-old battery recycling company, has recently announced a significant milestone in its funding journey. The company has successfully raised $542 million in Series D funding, on top of the $480 million it had previously received from DoE grants. This new injection of capital will allow Ascend Elements to establish a cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Kentucky, with a focus on refining recycled lithium batteries into sustainable, battery-ready materials.

Key Takeaway

Ascend Elements secures $542 million in Series D funding and plans to establish a state-of-the-art battery recycling facility in Kentucky. The company aims to refine recycled lithium batteries into sustainable, battery-ready materials to meet the increasing demand for high-value, battery-grade products. This funding round highlights the growing interest in the battery recycling sector, as investors recognize the importance of creating a more sustainable and self-reliant battery supply chain.

Investors and Sustainability Focus

Ascend Elements’ Series D round was led by Decarbonization Partners, a firm linked to BlackRock. Other notable investors included funds managed by Singapore and Qatar, as well as climate-tech investor Fifth Wall. Despite BlackRock’s association with the fossil fuels industry, the firm positions itself as an environmentally conscious investor. The participation of such prominent figures reflects the increasing interest and support for sustainable battery recycling solutions.

Value Creation in Battery Recycling

Ascend Elements CEO, Mike O’Kronley, highlighted the importance of focusing on creating high-value, battery-grade materials in the recycling process. While many companies can recycle batteries into black mass, the challenge lies in producing materials that meet the stringent requirements of the battery industry. Ascend Elements has already been successfully producing these materials in its pilot facilities in Massachusetts and Michigan. With the new funding, the company aims to scale up its operations and produce 20 kilotons of precursor cathode active materials (PCAM) per year at its Kentucky plant, starting from late 2024. Honda and SK Battery America are among Ascend Elements’ current customers.

A Growing Trend in Battery Recycling

The flurry of venture funding in the battery recycling sector underscores the increasing recognition of its importance. Besides Ascend Elements’ $542 million Series D funding, other notable deals include Redwood Materials’ $1 billion Series D round, Nth Cycle’s targeted $50 million Series B, and Green Li-ion’s $20.5 million “pre-Series B” funding. Moreover, the U.S. Energy Department has allocated $192 million to support battery recycling technology development, with the aim of reducing reliance on batteries produced in China.

While the recent investment activity in battery recycling is significant, PitchBook data suggests that global VC funding for battery-recycling firms has not yet reached its peak from a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, Q3 2021 recorded $2.5 billion in funding across nine deals, and this year has seen an impressive $1.5 billion invested across seven deals so far.

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