A new battery recycling facility will deepen Kentucky’s ties to the electric vehicle sector

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A $65 million venture between American and South Korean companies will build a recycling facility in Kentucky to shred electric car batteries that will supply material for a separate battery-related operation in the same city, the companies announced Tuesday.

The 100,000-square-foot (9,000-square-meter) EV battery recycling facility to be built in Hopkinsville will create about 60 jobs, according to South Korea-based SK Ecoplant and US-based Ascend Elements, which is partnering with its electronic waste. Recycling Subsidy, TES, in the project. Construction will begin in November and be completed in January 2025. Hopkinsville is located 170 miles (274 km) southwest of Louisville, Kentucky.

“This is just the beginning of a whole new industry in the United States,” Mike O’Cronley, CEO of Ascend Elements, said in a news release. “For every new EV battery gigafactory that’s built, we need to build a new battery recycling facility to process scrap and end-of-life batteries.”

The recycling facility will disassemble and shred about 24,000 metric tons of used EV batteries and Gigafactory scrap per year — or about 56,000 EV batteries a year, the company said. The exact location for the new facility has not been determined, it said.

SK Ecoplant will be the majority owner, holding 64% of the new joint venture, with Ascend Elements owning 25% and TES owning 11%, according to the release. As of 2022, SK Ecoplant has invested more than $60 million in Massachusetts-based Ascend Elements.

“This is a capital-intensive endeavor, so joint ventures between strategically aligned partners are an ideal way to finance new infrastructure projects,” O’Cronley said.

The new facility will produce about 12,000 metric tons of black mass per year — a powder that contains the valuable cathode and anode material inside an electric car battery, the company said.

Black mass produced at the new recycling facility will help supply the Apex 1 engineered battery materials facility near Ascend Elements, a $1 billion project currently under construction in Hopkinsville that will employ 400 workers. At full capacity, the project will produce enough engineered cathode material for about 750,000 new electric vehicles each year, the company said.

Ascend Elements said it recently closed a $542 million financing round and received $480 million in US Department of Energy grant awards to accelerate construction of the Apex 1 project. Ascend Elements has a battery recycling facility in Covington, Georgia and a battery laboratory in Novi, Michigan.

The recycling facility in Hopkinsville will deepen Kentucky’s connection to the emerging EV sector.

Kentucky Governor Andy Bessier said in a social media video on Tuesday.

During Bezier’s tenure, Kentucky has invested nearly $11 billion in the private sector and created more than 10,000 jobs in the EV sector, the governor’s office said. In the largest project, Ford and its battery partner, South Korea’s SK Innovation, are building Twin battery plants Outside of Glendale in central Kentucky. The $5.8 billion megaproject will create 5,000 jobs to build batteries for the automaker’s next-generation electric vehicles.

In the United States, Electric vehicle sales Sales of more than 557,000 vehicles, or all new cars, continued to grow by 7.2% in the first half of the year. Last year EV market share was 5.8% with only 807,000 sold. Industry analysts predict continued growth in EV sales for the next decade or more.



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