Aqua Metals secures first patent for AquaRefining equipment, processes

Aqua Metals secures first patent for AquaRefining equipment, processes

Technology passes Korean Intellectual Property Office's examination.

June 1, 2017
Recycling Today Staff
Aqua Metals Inc., Alameda, California, has announced it has secured its first patent for its AquaRefining equipment and processes from the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO)

Aqua Metals says it chose KIPO as the examining authority because of its well-known rigorous examination process. To that end, the company says, Australia, China and other key Asian territories tend to follow KIPO’s lead. Korea also is one of the world’s largest lead producers with a metals industry that uses large scale hydrometallurgical processes, Aqua Metals says. 

The name of Korea Patent No. 10-1739414 is “Devices and Method for Smelterless Recycling of Lead Acid Batteries.” This patent is accepted only in Korea, the company says.

The company’s AquaRefining process is a closed-loop, room-temperature electrochemical process that emits virtually no harmful byproducts, according to the company. The modular design of the AquaRefining technology enables unprecedented scalability, allowing for the co-location of lead-acid battery manufacturing, distribution and recycling. For the first time, the lead industry has an environmentally and economically sustainable solution to efficiently recycle lead-acid batteries, Aqua Metals says

“While our initial patent provides us with protection in Korea only, we believe this first patent sets a strong precedent that our technology is novel, of utility and an advancement over the prior art,” says Stephen Clarke, chairman and CEO of Aqua Metals. “We anticipate this will be the first of many patents to be issued in the coming months. More importantly, this is a landmark moment for our team – our technology has passed muster in one of the toughest patent jurisdictions in the world, which paves the way for success elsewhere. We are extremely proud of this achievement, and believe it validates the hard work and progress our team has put forth.”

The company says it is pursuing a comprehensive and rigorous IP Strategy with more than 20 planned filings organized into several “families” covering “matter,” “devices” and “processes” in up to 20 territories.

In other company news, Aqua Metals says it hosted its first analyst visitor day May 31, 2017.

Analysts were given a tour of AquaRefinery 1 in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Complex (TRIC), led by Aqua Metals’ executive management team. The visitors viewed the processes at the AquaRefinery as they happened, including battery feedstock deliveries, battery breaking and separation, desulfurization and pre-AquaRefining digestion processes, AquaRefining on simultaneously running AquaRefining modules and shipments of lead products to customers.

Among the firms that attended the visitor day were analysts from Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Euro Pacific Capital and National Securities Corp. The day also included representation from Green Bank, which provided Aqua Metals with a $10 million loan in 2015 that is backed by a 90 percent loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“It has been a busy few months for our team as we continue to pursue our production milestones and step ever closer to full output of AquaRefined lead at TRIC,” Clarke says. “We aim to be as transparent as possible while protecting our IP, as we expand our operations and collaborate with new partners. This was a valuable opportunity to open our doors to the analyst community, providing a behind-the-scenes look at our process.”

Aqua Metals says AquaRefinery 1 is ramping toward a total production output of 120 metric tons of lead products per day by the end of 2017. The company also is working on plans to build a second AquaRefinery and integrating AquaRefining into a to-be-named existing lead smelter with its strategic partner, Johnson Controls.