One of the largest cleantech private placements in the U.S. has been announced, with Ascend Elements raising $542 million. Ascend Elements is a leading provider of sustainable battery materials solutions for electric vehicles (EVs). The Series D round was led by Decarbonization Partners, Temasek, and Qatar Investment Authority, with participation from global investors such as BHP Ventures, Hitachi Ventures, Tenaska, Agave Partners, and Fifth Wall. Goldman Sachs & Co. acted as the sole placement agent. The total raised includes $460 million from the Series D financing and $82 million from previous investments. This makes it one of the top ten equity private placements in the U.S. this year.
Ascend Elements CEO Mike O’Kronley expressed gratitude for reaching this milestone and highlighted the importance of the investment in commercializing the production of sustainable lithium-ion battery materials. This is crucial in meeting the growing demand for EV batteries and achieving net zero emissions. O’Kronley also emphasized the company’s commitment to investing in North America’s EV battery infrastructure and creating manufacturing jobs in the United States.
The funds will be used to build Apex 1, North America’s first sustainable cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active material (CAM) facility in Kentucky. Construction began in October 2022, and once completed, the facility will manufacture sustainable pCAM capable of powering 750,000 EVs annually. CAM and pCAM are engineered materials used in EV battery production, with the majority currently being made in China from mined metals. Ascend Elements, however, has developed a method to produce pCAM and CAM from black mass, the output of recycling lithium-ion batteries. This not only reduces the reliance on mined materials but also reduces carbon emissions by up to 93%.
The company has gained significant support from major industry players and has also received government grants totaling $480 million from the Department of Energy. These investments aim to scale up the domestic EV supply chain in the U.S., particularly in terms of lithium supply. The U.S. currently imports 66% more lithium-ion batteries in Q1 2023 compared to the previous year, highlighting the need to ramp up domestic lithium production to meet the growing demand from leading EV manufacturers.
One company working to bridge the domestic supply gap is American Lithium Corp. (AMLI), which owns two of the largest lithium deposits in the Americas. The company recently published its first-ever Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report, highlighting its commitment to environmental stewardship, ethics, integrity, human rights, diversity, and social risk management in its lithium projects. As the demand for lithium-ion EV batteries continues to rise, solutions like Ascend Elements’ recycling process play a crucial role in closing the loop and advancing sustainability in the industry.
In summary, Ascend Elements’ $542 million raise will support the production of sustainable battery materials for EVs. The investment will be used to build North America’s first sustainable pCAM and CAM facility, reducing reliance on mined materials and lowering carbon emissions. This investment is part of efforts to scale up the domestic EV supply chain in the U.S. and meet the growing demand for lithium-ion batteries.