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Ascend Elements and South Korean partners to build battery recycling facility in Hopkinsville

A truck leaves the Commerce Park II construction site on Nov. 17, 2022.
Jennifer P. Brown
Hoptown Chronicle
A truck leaves the Commerce Park II construction site on Nov. 17, 2022.

The facility will supply material to the $1 billion Ascend Elements Apex I plant currently under construction at Commerce Park II.

Ascend Elements and a South Korea-based partner, SK ecoplant, and its recycling subsidiary, TES, plan to build a $65 million lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Hopkinsville that will disassemble and shred approximately 56,000 electric batteries a year, Ascend said Tuesday in a press release.

The 100,000-square-foot plant will create about 60 jobs. Construction is slated to start in December and be completed in January 2025, the release states.

It will be located near Ascend Elements Apex I — the facility currently under construction in Commerce Park II, an estimated $1 billion project that will manufacture cathode active material for the EV battery industry.

The release does not specific exactly where the Ascend-SK ecoplant facility will be located. Carter Hendricks, executive director of the South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council, told Hoptown Chronicle that the site has not been finalized.

SK ecoplant will be the majority owner with a 64% share. Ascend will own 25% and TES will own 11%.

“This is just the beginning of an entirely new industry in the United States,” Ascend CEO Mike O’Kronley said in the release. “For every new EV battery gigafactory that is built, we will need to build a new battery recycling facility to process manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries. This is a capital intensive endeavor, so joint ventures between strategically aligned partners is an ideal way to fund new infrastructure projects.”

The Ascend-SK facility will produce 12,000 metric tons of black mass a year in the process of shredding EV batteries.

“Black mass is a fine powder that contains the valuable cathode and anode materials inside an electric vehicle battery,” the release states. “The black mass produced at the new SK ecoplant/Ascend Elements facility will help supply Ascend Elements’ nearby Apex 1 engineered battery materials facility …”

The Ascend Elements Apex I facility is expected to be operational in 2024.

This story was originally published by the Hoptown Chronicle.

Jennifer P. Brown is the founder and editor of Hoptown Chronicle.
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