The electric vehicle (EV) segment in India, particularly in the two-wheeler category, has been experiencing rapid growth, primarily driven by lithium-ion batteries. However, India heavily relies on imports to meet its demand for the raw materials essential for manufacturing Li-ion cells used in EV batteries. This dependence on imports has led to an environmental challenge – what to do with the discarded batteries that pose both a resource and an environmental hazard? Vikrant Singh, CTO & Co-Founder of Bat X Energies, sheds light on their business model, expertise, environmental sustainability, and future plans in a conversation with TOI Auto.
Bat X Energies, founded in 2020, specializes in the reclamation and recycling of crucial Earth metals such as Lithium, Cobalt, Nickel, and Manganese from discarded Lithium-ion cells. These metals are then seamlessly reintegrated into battery production, contributing to a sustainable and circular economy.
Singh explains their business model, stating, “Our business model revolves around producing battery-grade materials through recycling, particularly from sources like spent batteries from the EV sector, electronics, and the telecom sector. Our proprietary technology ensures a zero-waste, zero-emission recycling process for these materials, which are commonly found in household items like mobile phones and electric vehicles. These materials, including lithium, cobalt, and nickel, have applications in various industries such as pharmaceuticals, ceramics, paints, and electroplating.”
However, collecting batteries from diverse locations across India presents challenges, including high logistical costs and safety risks. In response, Bat X Energies has developed a ‘Hub and Spoke’ strategy in collaboration with OEMs and channel partners. This strategy streamlines the collection of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries, improves coordination, ensures regulatory compliance, and enhances traceability.
The recycling process involves both mechanical and chemical stages. The mechanical process efficiently separates Black Mass (a critical component of batteries) from other materials, yielding high-grade Black Mass with minimal impurities. Simultaneously, secondary materials like plastic, aluminum, steel, and copper are separated for their respective applications. In the chemical (hydrometallurgy) stage, reusable chemicals are employed to extract rare earth metals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, which are then reintroduced into the supply chain.
The recycled materials are supplied to battery cell manufacturers, closing the loop in the circular economy for lithium-ion battery manufacturing and electric vehicles. Additionally, Bat X Energies produces batteries from recycled materials and exports them globally.
Singh emphasizes the environmental importance of recycling li-ion batteries, stating, “Improperly disposed of li-ion batteries can harm the environment, leading to soil and water contamination and posing risks to human health, as these batteries contain toxic elements, including cobalt, nickel, and manganese. Hence, the proper disposal and recycling of these batteries are essential to minimize environmental impact, driving the need for lithium-ion battery recycling in India.”
While currently operating nationwide in India, Bat X Energies has ambitious expansion plans. Recognizing the challenges faced by countries lacking natural resources for critical raw materials in the electric mobility sector, they intend to enter markets such as South Africa, the USA, and Europe in the near future. These expansion plans also include advanced R&D for battery-grade materials, capacity scaling, and the establishment of micro facilities across India, which will boost job opportunities and create a skilled workforce in the electronic waste management sector.