Project Finance Brief: Spearmint Energy Acquires 150 MW Battery Energy Storage Project

Singapore-based start-up NEU Battery Materials, a lithium recycling company, raised S$800,000 (~$0.54 million) in a seed funding round.

Momentum Venture Capital and Se-cure Waste Management led the seed round with two business angels in the energy storage and sustainability sectors and earlier funding from the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP).

The company plans to use the new proceeds to build a pilot recycling plant in Singapore to recycle lithium from used lithium batteries.

“The demand for lithium batteries is high due to their everyday use. This demand will continue to increase drastically as EVs become mainstream. However, mining for lithium used in batteries is not an environmentally friendly process. Furthermore, most lithium batteries are dumped into landfills at the end of their lifespan, creating environmental waste. We want to develop further and bring to market a method for producing sustainable lithium, resulting in clean and sustainable lithium batteries,” said Bryan Oh, CEO and Co-founder of NEU Battery Materials.

The company aims to bring a patented electrochemical redox flow recycling process to market that was initially invented by Associate Professor Wang Qing, Deputy Head, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, NUS College of Design and Engineering. Associate Professor Wang is also a Co-Founder and Advisor to NEU Battery Materials.

“I’ve been conducting research in the area of electrochemistry and flow batteries for the past 20 years and believe that electrochemical battery recycling is the future, set to replace hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy. This recycling process is the first time it has been demonstrated to be possible to recycle lithium from the cheapest battery type – the lithium iron phosphate battery. I am delighted that NEU Battery Materials will be commercializing this technology and demonstrating its use in battery recycling,” said Assoc Prof Wang.

In order to recycle used lithium batteries, the batteries are first discharged and dismantled. A series of crushing procedures reduces and sorts through the battery’s key components. The remains of the battery are called ‘black mass,’ which enters the electrochemical redox flow recycling process.

The company has partnered with one of its investors, Se-cure Waste Management, a company that handles the recycling of metal waste and scrap materials.

NEU Battery Materials will build and operate a 150-square-meter pilot plant at Se-Cure Waste Management’s facility. This pilot plant will be able to process approximately 150 tons of lithium batteries a year.

“Our partnership with NEU Battery Materials and the setting up of the pilot plant allows Se-Cure Waste Management (SWM) to now handle the recycling of all types of lithium batteries, including lithium iron phosphate batteries, which has never been done before. We have already started sourcing for used lithium iron phosphate batteries, letting our industry contacts know that such recycling is possible. As lithium is a valuable material, we foresee battery manufacturers’ interest in this development. With NEU Battery Materials’ recycling process available, recycling lithium batteries is now cleaner and greener,” said Vince Goh, Managing Director at SWM.

Last month, Princeton NuEnergy, a clean-tech start-up company spun out from Princeton University and focused on directly recycling lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles and consumer electronics, raised $7 million in a seed funding round. Wistron Corporation, an electronics manufacturer based in Taiwan, led the funding round with Shell Ventures, Greenland Technologies, CleanTech Open, AIBasis Fund, WorldQuant Ventures, and the angel investors.