U.S.-based Ascend Elements has signed an MOU with South Korean cathode producer EcoPro to provide black mass to Ecopro's recycling facility in Pohang, South Korea. The material that mainly originates from SK On's battery plant in Georgia, USA, will be there be processed into chemicals to be used in Ecopro's precursor and cathode production.
Ascend Elements which is developing a technology to process waste battery and battery production waste directly into cathode materials is currently building a pre-processing facility in Georgia, United States which is set to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2023. The company has a an agreement with SK Battery America, a subsidiary to the South Korean battery producer SK On, to process production waste from the producers facility in Commerce, Georgia.
Under the agreement to follow the MOU Ascend Elements will process production waste which then will be shipped to Ecopro's recycling facility in Pohang, South Korea where it will be processed into chemicals to be used in Ecopro's precursor and cathode production in South Korea. This cathode material may then be resupplied to SK On in the United States.
Ecopro has for a long time been a supplier to SK On. In June 2022 the company signed a letter of intent with Ford Motor Company and SK On to invest in a cathode production plant in the US to produce material to Ford's and SK On's joint venture Blue Oval SK.
The MOU between Ascend Elements and Ecopro says the companies will "cooperate in the development, qualification, and integration of recycled battery materials into EcoPro's cathode products". This might mean that the companies going forward will move the precursor production to Ascend Element's plant in Hopkinsville, Kentucky where the company is planning to produce precursor and cathode materials.
Earlier in 2022 another subsidiary in the SK conglomerate, SK Ecoplant, invested in Ascend Elements and is currently the largest owner. SK Ecoplant also acquired the global e-waste and battery recycler TES.
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