Not Tesla: Battery Recycling Refinery Opens In Tahoe Reno Industrial Center

Jul 29, 2016

The Tahoe Reno Industrial Center just welcomed a company in the battery industry, but it’s not Tesla.

The Aqua Metals refining facility is located in Storey County’s Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.
Credit Natalie Van Hoozer

Aqua Metals, a company which recycles lead batteries, held a grand opening to unveil the world’s first facility for a process company executives call “AquaRefining.”

More environmentally friendly than smelting, “AquaRefining” dissolves the lead acid from batteries in a water solution instead of heating it and causing emissions.

The company plans to offer up to 70 permanent jobs in the Reno area, and CEO Steve Clarke says the demand for what they do is only going to increase.

“We’re already talking to most of the battery companies in North America,” he said, “companies in China and India and South America who are interested in licensing the technology and acquiring modules from us so they can switch their smelters to AquaRefining.”

Aqua Metals will replace the smelting component of battery recycling, but other steps in the process will remain the same.
Credit Natalie Van Hoozer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was also impressed and backed a loan for Aqua Metals. Nevada’s Director for USDA Rural Development Sarah Adler says their support of the company isn’t just for environmental reasons, they want to draw people to live east of Reno-Sparks:

“We want people to look to rural Nevada, and creating the kind of family wage job that’s being created here, and better, we’re pumping that vitality farther out into rural Nevada,” she said.

For Adler, this kind of growth also creates concerns about issues like affordable housing and access to quality education.