TDK Ventures Invests in Battery Recycling StartupApril 27, 2021 by Shannon Cuthrell
Through its venture capital arm, TDK Corporation announces a new investment into a lithium-ion battery recycling startup Battery Resourcers.
The investment arm of Japanese power electronics giant TDK Corporation announced it would be fueling fresh capital into Battery Resourcers, a Massachusetts-based startup with materials process technology for recycling end-of-life lithium-ion batteries—an attractive source of potential cost reduction for battery cell and electric vehicle manufacturers.
Battery Resourcers CEO Mike O’Kronley at the company’s new facility in Novi, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Battery Resourcers)
With participation from TDK Ventures, the $20 million Series B round was led by Orbia Ventures, a new corporate venture capital fund from specialty product provider Orbia, joining Bay Area-based VC funds At One Ventures and Tsingyuan Ventures, TRUMPF VC arm TRUMPF Ventures, Doral Group VC fund Doral Energy-Tech Ventures, Boston-based MassVentures and Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures.
This is the first major fundraise for Battery Resourcers, founded in 2015 by Worcester Polytechnic Institute mechanical engineering professor Yan Wang. It has received over $1.17 million to date from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, $225,000 from the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program and additional funding from the MassVentures START Program and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
In 2018, the startup opened a pilot plant capable of recycling 500 kilograms (about half a ton) of batteries per day. With the new funding Battery, Resourcers plans to build a commercial-scale shredding facility that can process more than 10,000 tons per year of lithium-ion battery feedstock, capable of powering over 20,000 EVs per year.
Battery Resourcers says its process technology enables a closed-loop battery cathode supply chain, reducing costs by up to 35%, with 20% less emissions, and 97% and 70% of metals recovered by weight and value, respectively. The process rebuilds full EV battery-grade cathodes with the used batteries, an attractive point to cell makers and EV car companies seeking to reduce costs through building manufacturing value chains.
In the announcement, Battery Resourcers CEO Mike O’Kronley said the process accepts “a mixed input of battery material chemistries from consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and even grid-scale energy storage lithium ion devices to produce a defined premium grade cathode output.”
TDK Ventures Managing Director Nicolas Sauvage also commented that with the Biden administration continuing its push towards auto electrification, the U.S. is poised to follow Europe’s lithium-ion battery recycling targets.
He added, “[Battery Resourcers]’s fundamental strategic advantage is that they are moving up the value chain by creating a product that cellmakers and EV OEMs want while being significantly more environmentally friendly.”
On the same day the funding round was announced, TDK Ventures revealed it closed a $150 million fund for early-stage materials science and hard-tech startups targeting cleantech, energy, advanced materials, robotics, autonomous and electric vehicles, industrial and healthtech markets.
The new fund brings TDK Ventures’ total assets under management to $200 million, with $50 million infused into its first fund in 2019. Overall, the firm has 16 companies in its portfolio, with one IPO and two mergers and acquisitions.