Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Note 1 - Organization

Note 1 - Organization
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2022
Notes to Financial Statements  
Nature of Operations [Text Block]

1. Organization


Aqua Metals (NASDAQ: AQMS) is engaged in the business of applying its commercialized clean, water-based recycling technology principles to develop the clean and cost-efficient recycling solutions for both lead and lithium-ion batteries, or "Li". We offer technology licensing and related services to recyclers across the globe for lead recycling and expect to provide recycling services for Li batteries. Our recycling process is a patented hydrometallurgical technology that is a novel, proprietary and patented process we developed and named "AquaRefining". AquaRefining is a room temperature, water and organic acid-based process that greatly reduces environmental emissions. The modular Aqualyzers cleanly generate ultra-pure metal one atom at a time, closing the sustainability loop for the rapidly growing energy storage economy. Our process was originally designed for lead recycling. Lead is a globally traded commodity with a worldwide market value in excess of $20 billion. We believe our suite of patented and patent pending AquaRefining technologies will allow the lead-acid battery industry to simultaneously improve the environmental impact of lead recycling and scale recycling production to meet demand. Furthermore, our AquaRefining technologies result in high purity lead. We are also applying our commercialized clean, water-based recycling technology principles with the goal of developing the cleanest and most cost-efficient recycling solution for lithium-ion batteries. We believe our process has the potential to produce higher quality products at a lower operating cost without the damaging effects of furnaces and greenhouse emissions. Aqua Metals estimates its total addressable market for lithium-ion battery recycling will be approximately $9 billion by 2025 and grow to exceed lead battery recycling by the end of the decade. Unlike the mature lead recycling market, the deployed lithium-ion battery recycling infrastructure to serve market growth does not exist today.


We were formed as a Delaware corporation on June 20, 2014 for the purpose of engaging in the business of recycling metals through our patent-pending process that we developed and named “AquaRefining”. Since 2015, Aqua Metals has developed breakthrough metal recycling technologies that utilize a clean, closed-loop process that can produce ultra-high purity metal. Our innovative approach, AquaRefining, delivers raw materials back into the manufacturing supply chain while reducing emissions and toxic byproducts and creating a safer work environment. The patented AquaRefining modular systems have already demonstrated how they can reduce environmental impact and scale lead-acid battery recycling capacity.


We completed the development of our first LAB recycling facility at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in McCarran, Nevada (“TRIC”) and commenced production of battery breaking. During 2020 and 2021, we successfully iterated our lead AquaRefining Aqualyzer through a 1.25 and a 1.5 version which now has triple the throughput of the 2019 iteration that produced over 35,000 industry standard ingots in commercial production.  During the second half of 2022, we are deploying and operating a Phase 1 deployment of lead AquaRefining with our partner ACME Metal in Taiwan.  This showcase installation will inform management of the interest in ACME to move forward with larger deployments by the first quarter of 2023 as well as other potential licensees and partners in the same timeframe.


In February 2021, we announced a strategic investment in LINICO Corporation of up to $2 million to be paid in Aqua Metals shares and cash for an approximate 12% ownership in LINICO as part of our strategy to strengthen growth by potentially applying AquaRefining intellectual property to lithium-ion battery recycling while meeting our lead recycling commercial guidance. In November 2021, Aqua Metals and LINICO signed a collaboration agreement which sets the parameters for future research and development cooperation, as both companies expand into lithium-ion battery recycling and advance our technologies designed to recycle lithium-ion batteries cost-effectively and sustainably. Aqua Metals and LINICO plan to source the necessary lithium-ion feedstock from battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life cells from various sources, including electric vehicle battery suppliers interested in participating in the eco-network the two companies announced in 2021. LINICO intends to process the feedstock into high-quality black mass utilizing its proprietary process. The resulting black mass will be used as input feedstock for Aqua Metals’ AquaRefining pilot cells intended to create high purity metals such as nickel, cobalt, and copper as well as other compounds. 


In August 2021, we announced that we had established an Innovation Center focused on applying our proven technology to lithium-ion battery recycling research and development and prototype system activities. During the first half of 2022, we announced our ability to recover copper, lithium hydroxide, nickel, and cobalt from lithium-ion battery black mass at the Company's Innovation Center. Our strategic decision to apply our proven clean, closed-loop hydrometallurgical and electro-chemical recycling experience to lithium-ion battery recycling is designed to meet the growing demand for critical metals driven by the global transition to electric vehicles, growth in Internet data centers, and alternative energy applications including solar, wind, and grid-scale storage. In July 2022, we signed a letter of intent with Dragonfly Energy Corporation, a leader in lithium-ion deep cycle batteries, pursuant to which Dragonfly would purchase commercial quantities of lithium hydroxide for ongoing development of solid-state lithium-ion battery technologies and future manufacturing activities. The Company is on schedule to have the Innovation Center’s lithium-ion recycling pilot plant to be fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2022.