Interview With Aqua Metals, a Company Leading the Green Economy and NV Job Development

Featured image showing a group of Aqua Metals employees on a tour of their modern facility with elected officials.

Interview With Aqua Metals, a Company Leading the Green Economy and NV Job Development

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For companies and individuals contemplating a move to the Reno-Sparks area, Aqua Metals advises embracing the opportunity wholeheartedly. The region is rapidly becoming a hub for innovative industries, particularly in green technology and advanced manufacturing. In a recent interview, Aqua Metals shared their position in the market, their goals for the future and why you should consider moving to Reno, NV.

Q) What is the green economy and how can it help address climate change?

A green economy, as defined by the UN Environment Programme, is an economic system aimed at reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Its core objective is to achieve sustainable development without degrading the environment, focused on improving human well-being and social equity. In the context of Northern Nevada, particularly in cities like Reno, the green economy represents a transformative opportunity. It’s a shift towards innovative technologies and sustainable practices that not only address climate change by reducing dependence on fuels that create more carbon emissions but also stimulate economic growth and job creation in the region.

Q) What is the potential for a green economy in Nevada

For Nevada, this transition is deeply intertwined with the burgeoning clean energy economy, especially in the realm of sustainable metals recycling. As the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy solutions grows, so does the need for a domestic, secure, environmentally friendly supply chain for critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, and nickel – essential components of lithium-ion batteries powering this transition. Aqua Metals, based in the heart of the ‘Lithium Loop’, is at the forefront of this change. Our revolutionary AquaRefining technology exemplifies how sustainable recycling can significantly reduce emissions and contribute to building a resilient, low-carbon economy.

The impact on Nevada is profound. The green economy here is not just about environmental stewardship; it’s about creating high-quality jobs, fostering innovation, and driving economic development in a region poised to be a national leader in clean technology. By prioritizing initiatives that decarbonize our economy and embracing cutting-edge recycling technologies, Nevada is set to play a crucial role in the national and global shift toward a greener future. This transition to a green economy, therefore, is not just an environmental imperative but a significant economic opportunity for Reno and the surrounding communities.

Q) How will a greener economy influence job creation?

The transition to a greener economy is set to significantly impact job creation, bringing tangible benefits to various sectors. At Aqua Metals, we see this as a transformative opportunity, particularly for industries like ours in sustainable technology.

In the renewable energy sector, for instance, we’re witnessing a substantial rise in demand for skilled workers to manage and operate green technologies – from solar panel installation to wind farm maintenance. This shift is creating a diverse range of technical and engineering positions, vital for driving innovation and efficiency.

Additionally, the green economy revitalizes traditional industries with a new focus on sustainability. In construction, there’s an increasing demand for professionals skilled in green building practices. In transportation, the surge in electric vehicles is creating new roles for EV technicians and battery specialists.

Furthermore, this transition is fostering new educational and training opportunities. As the need for specialized knowledge in sustainability grows, we see a rising demand for educators and trainers in environmental management and green technology. And in regulatory and compliance sectors, the push for environmental stewardship is generating roles for policymakers and legal experts, pivotal in shaping and enforcing green policies.

At Aqua Metals, we’re committed to contributing to this job creation narrative, focusing on innovative recycling technologies that are both environmentally friendly and economically viable. The green economy isn’t just a concept – it’s a practical pathway to sustainable growth and diverse job opportunities.

Q) Can you explain the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act? How will that help consumers and manufacturers?

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 marks a significant step in U.S. climate action, focusing on reducing carbon emissions. It’s a game-changer for both consumers and manufacturers. Consumers benefit from tax credits and rebates, making clean energy solutions and electric vehicles (EVs) more affordable. For manufacturers, especially in the EV sector, it fosters a competitive, eco-friendly market. By 2027, critical minerals in EV batteries must predominantly come from domestic sources or U.S. trade partners, incentivizing sustainable, local supply chains, which is precisely where Aqua Metals steps in, aligning our circular recycling solutions with these new mandates.

The Li AquaRefining Pilot is a closed-loop, low-temperature recycling system able to reclaim all the critical minerals in ‘black mass’—a ground up mixture of the metals in lithium batteries. Aqua Metals powers this efficient process using electricity (instead of polluting furnaces or intensive chemical processes) dramatically reducing the emissions and hazardous waste typical of battery recycling. Photo by Digiman Studio.

Q) Tell us about the recent creation of the Nevada “lithium loop” tech hub.

The recent designation of the Carson City-Reno region as the “Nevada Lithium Batteries and Other EV Material Loop” by President Biden marks a significant milestone. This initiative is part of a broader national effort to establish 31 tech hubs across the country, aimed at enhancing global competitiveness in cutting-edge technology. This recognition is particularly exciting for our region, as it brings initial federal investment into the lithium battery ecosystem. This development not only boosts technological innovation but also aligns perfectly with our mission at Aqua Metals to advance sustainable practices in the clean energy sector. It’s a testament to the growing importance of lithium battery technology and its critical role in shaping a greener, more sustainable future.

Q) What are the challenges to creating the EV supply chain? How does Aqua Metals address this?

Addressing the challenges of creating an efficient and sustainable electric vehicle (EV) supply chain is critical in the era of rising global demand for lithium-ion batteries. Currently, a significant hurdle is the relative infancy of the EV market; there simply haven’t been enough EVs on the roads for a sufficient duration to generate a large volume of end-of-life batteries ready for recycling. This delay poses a unique challenge in meeting the immediate demands for critical battery materials.

However, Aqua Metals is poised to play a pivotal role in bridging this gap. As the EV industry grows and more battery cell manufacturers emerge, there’s an increasing volume of manufacturing scrap requiring environmentally responsible recycling solutions. At Aqua Metals, we leverage this scenario as an opportunity to supply recyclable material for the domestic EV battery supply chain.

Our innovative AquaRefining technology offers an ecologically sound approach to recycling lithium-ion batteries, focusing on recovering high-value materials from manufacturing scraps. This method not only supports the burgeoning demand for battery materials but also contributes to the establishment of a circular economy within the EV sector, ensuring sustainability in supply chain development.

US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto on a tour of Aqua Metals’ Innovation Center and Li AquaRefining Pilot in Tahoe-Reno. Photo by Digiman Studio.

Q) What are Aqua Metals’ core products and features?

Aqua Metals’ AquaRefining recycling process uses clean electricity to extract metals from spent, shredded EV batteries or manufacturing waste so those metals can be used again in newly built batteries, instead of melting down used batteries in polluting furnaces or extracting them using trainloads of consumable chemicals.

Each metal is recovered at high purity, without the need for high temperatures, and without generating multiple tons of waste that must be sent to a landfill. This dramatically reduces emissions associated with recycling. We deliver metals like lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, and manganese back into the battery supply chain.

Q) What differentiates the company from its competition?

Aqua Metals distinctly stands out in the recycling industry with our proprietary AquaRefining technology. This innovative process sets us apart as the only company offering an environmentally friendly solution with an exceptionally low carbon emissions profile. In stark contrast to other methods available in the market, AquaRefining is designed to be ecologically responsible. It effectively addresses the problem of pollution and waste typical in recycling operations, ensuring that our recycling efforts don’t contribute to environmental degradation. This commitment to sustainability and minimal environmental impact fundamentally differentiates us from our competition, positioning Aqua Metals as a leader in sustainable recycling practices.

Q) How will you work with other companies in the “lithium loop” to develop the NV green economy?

At Aqua Metals, our collaboration within the Nevada “lithium loop” is pivotal to fostering the state’s green economy. A key aspect of this is our partnership with local innovator Dragonfly Energy. Together, we’ve achieved a groundbreaking milestone by producing a lithium battery cell from 100% recycled lithium, courtesy of our proprietary AquaRefining technology. This achievement underscores our commitment to sustainable recycling practices and significantly reduces the environmental impact of battery production. By working with Dragonfly Energy and other partners in the loop, we’re not only contributing to Nevada’s economic growth but also setting new standards for environmentally responsible practices in the lithium battery sector. Our collective efforts are key in establishing a more sustainable, circular economy in battery production and recycling, cementing Nevada’s status as a leader in green technology.

Aqua Metals’ Jim Kenney showing freshly plated nickel at the lithium battery AquaRefining Pilot. Photo by Digiman Studio.

Q.) What are some of the company’s future goals?

Aqua Metals is committed to significant growth in the Reno region, with ambitious plans to expand our operations and workforce. Our future goals center on creating new, high-quality jobs that contribute to a thriving, inclusive community. As we expand, our focus is not just on technological innovation in sustainable lithium battery recycling, but also on nurturing a diverse workforce and fostering a positive local economic impact. We envision Aqua Metals as a cornerstone of the Reno area’s green economy, playing a vital role in building a sustainable future. Our commitment extends beyond business growth to ensuring we are a responsible and beneficial presence in the community, contributing to its overall wellbeing and prosperity.

Q) Do you have any advice for companies or individuals contemplating a move to the Reno-Sparks area?

Absolutely! For companies and individuals considering a move to the Reno-Sparks area, my advice is to embrace the opportunity wholeheartedly. This region is not just a burgeoning hub for innovative industries, particularly in green technology and advanced manufacturing, but it’s also a community rich in diversity and opportunity.

Leverage the Growing Tech Hub: The area is rapidly becoming a key player in the green economy, especially with the development of the “Nevada Lithium Loop.” It’s an exciting time to be part of this transformative phase, where innovation thrives.

Collaborate and Network: There’s a spirit of collaboration here that’s palpable. Engage with local businesses, educational institutions, and tech incubators. For Aqua Metals, partnerships with organizations like Dragonfly Energy have been instrumental in advancing sustainable technology.

Enjoy the Lifestyle: Beyond work, the Reno-Sparks region offers a quality of life that balances urban amenities with outdoor adventure. It’s a community that values both hard work and the enjoyment of the natural beauty surrounding it.

Commit to Sustainability: As a company that prioritizes environmental responsibility, we find the Reno-Sparks area aligns with our values. Companies moving here have a unique opportunity to contribute to and benefit from a culture that values sustainability and innovation.

Invest in the Community: Finally, it’s about more than just business. It’s about building a life in a community that’s growing and evolving. There’s a real sense of being part of something bigger, a collective effort to shape a prosperous, sustainable future.

Reno-Sparks is not just a place to relocate a business; it’s a vibrant community to become an integral part of, offering a synergy of professional opportunities and personal fulfillment.

Thank You Aqua Metals

We would like to express our gratitude to the representatives at Aqua Metals for generously providing us with insightful content for this article. As leaders in their field, Aqua Metals has constantly pushed the boundaries of innovation, revolutionizing the recycling industry with their ground-breaking technology. Their commitment to sustainability and dedication to transforming the way we handle batteries is truly commendable. We are thrilled to share their expertise and knowledge with our readers.

Aqua Metals is Hiring

Looking for a rewarding career in a cutting-edge industry? Aqua Metals in Sparks, NV is hiring. As a leader in sustainable lead recycling, Aqua Metals offers a dynamic work environment where employees can make a real impact on the future of the planet. Join their team and be a part of the green revolution while enjoying competitive pay, benefits, and opportunities for growth. Apply now and start your journey towards a fulfilling career with Aqua Metals.

Work Live Play Reno Tahoe is a community-wide initiative powered by EDAWN to recruit skilled workers with all levels of expertise to join the Northern Nevada workforce. Get started by submitting your resume, browse hiring companies, and connect directly with Lindsey, our Community Liaison who will help lead your quest for employment. Working Remotely? Check out our extensive list of Remote Worker ResourcesStudents can also participate! Visit our new Student Portal to start making connections for your future.

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