Ascend Elements: Transforming Battery Recycling for the EV Era

A cheaper and more efficient recycling option for lithium-ion batteries

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2 min

Ascend Elements has created an IP-protected recycling process for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, a market projected to grow rapidly over the next decade.

In 2008, Tesla launched its first electric vehicle (EV). Since then, legacy car brands like Hyundai, Jeep, GM, and Nissan have jumped on the EV bandwagon, while multiple states have begun passing laws that will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035.

Unfortunately, the lithium-ion batteries that power EVs require metals such as nickel, manganese, and cobalt. These metals are relatively scarce, expensive, and internationally sourced from regions like Russia, Indonesia, and Congo. Recycling these metals from spent batteries — a market expected to reach $32 billion by 2029 — will help reduce EV’s reliance on this problematic supply chain.

Capitalizing on this growing market opportunity is Alumni Ventures’ portfolio company Ascend Elements. Founded in 2015, Ascend has developed a much cheaper, efficient, and effective recycling option for lithium-ion batteries. The company’s IP-protected recycling process enables the recycling of battery chemicals and the reproduction of valuable cathode materials — all at a 59% lower cost.

Sustainable Lithium-Ion Battery Materials & Recycling

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An Electric Approach

While competitors simply shred batteries or extract high-value elements, Ascend Elements converts batteries into active cathode material, an essential component of new batteries. Rather than breaking a spent battery into various parts and recombining them to form a new battery, Ascend’s process removes impurities and adjusts the blend of materials to rejuvenate specific battery components.

Because this approach is significantly more efficient, Ascend can generate 10x the revenue at 3x the margin of other battery recycling approaches. In particular, Ascend’s recycling process allows for 99% of inputs into lithium batteries to be recycled, resulting in a 93% reduction in emissions.

Engaged Lead Investor

Lead investor Fifth Wall has over $3.2 billion in AUM raised from over 100 strategic partnerships, allowing them to create significant value for their portfolio companies. Fifth Wall’s strong belief in Ascend is apparent, as they more than doubled their investment in the company’s most recent round.

Less than 5% of Lithium-ion batteries today are recycled. With rapidly expanding EV demand (~250M units globally by 2030), batteries present a serious waste-management and supply chain challenge. Battery recycling is key to transitioning towards net zero power in our buildings and vehicles in an affordable, reliable, and efficient way.
Fifth Wall Ventures
Lead Investor

How We Are Involved

Blue Ivy Ventures (for the Yale community) sponsored Alumni Ventures’ investment in Ascend’s $300 million Series C in October 2022 alongside Purple Arch Ventures (for the Northwestern community) and AV’s Deep Tech Fund. Part of the allocation was also raised via Syndication.

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