In 2008, erstwhile the conception of waste management was inactive successful its infancy successful India, a Noida-based startup, Attero, entered the arena of recycling physics discarded (e-waste) astatine a clip erstwhile the state was starring generators of e-waste globally.
Leveraging the booming user electronics products market, Attero started recovering gold, silver, aluminium, and copper from e-waste specified arsenic discarded laptops, mobile phones, televisions, and refrigerators.
Before delving deeper into the communicative of Attero, a Noida-based recycling startup, it is important to recognize that the thought of recovery, recycling, and reusing metals extracted from discarded physics devices gained superior attraction successful the state lone successful the 2000s.
Years on, the maturation of the recycling assemblage has mostly failed to budge. To enactment things into perspective, the state could lone process 22% of the full 10.1 Lakh Tonnes of e-waste generated successful 2019-20, the Central Pollution Control Board information suggests.
While the situation of processing e-waste is yet to beryllium afloat addressed, a caller root of much hazardous waste, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, has started dominating the country’s landfills, and astatine the halfway of this is the expanding usage of mobile phones and increasing electrical vehicles (EVs).
Familiar with the challenges successful the tract of e-waste absorption and the opportunities this assemblage holds for its stakeholders, Attero fuelled its R&D efforts successful the country of Li-ion artillery recycling successful 2019 to marque the country’s EV scenery sustainable.
In conscionable 2 years, Attero’s caller concern vertical took disconnected astatine a commercialized scale, and with this, the e-waste absorption startup was acceptable to marque waves successful the planetary recycling space, which is expected to scope a marketplace size of $23.6 Bn by 2030.
The Setting Up Of Li-ion Battery Recycling Business
Speaking with Inc42 about its travel successful the Li-ion artillery recycling space, Attero’s CEO and cofounder Nitin Gupta reminisced that the institution soon started receiving an expanding magnitude of batteries arsenic portion of the e-waste sourcing stream.
“When we dug deeper into it, we realised that Li-ion artillery exertion is the champion artillery exertion successful the satellite due to the fact that it’s got the highest vigor density, fastest charging clip and slowest discharging time. But, astir importantly, adjacent to astir $100 Bn had been invested successful the Li-ion artillery ecosystem,” helium said.
From its research, Attero realised that this creates 2 problems. First, arsenic Li-ion batteries go much ubiquitous, they volition turn exponentially. Given these are hazardous, they request to beryllium recycled successful an environmentally affable manner.
“Besides, the evident occupation contiguous is astatine slightest 50% of the outgo of EVs is the outgo of the batteries, retired of which astatine slightest 45% is the outgo of earthy materials that marque up the battery, which includes cobalt, lithium, nickel, graphite, manganese,” Gupta said, adding that these captious artillery materials besides person important environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.
Due to controversies astir the biology interaction of mining lithium and kid labour successful the cobalt mines of the Congo region, the EV ecosystem is already frowned upon by many.
Also, much than 90% of the world’s lithium gets refined successful China, which is caught up successful geopolitical issues with India and different nations. With a crisp absorption connected ESG issues, the institution built its Li-ion artillery recycling exertion and contiguous has a full of 38 planetary patents nether its belt.
Amid each this, Attero has already achieved operational profitability, arsenic it clocked INR 40 Cr successful nett and revenues of INR 214 Cr successful FY22. Its nett stood astatine INR 13 Cr and revenues astatine INR 114 Cr successful the year-ago fiscal.
Gupta besides claimed that the institution is currency travel affirmative and increasing exponentially. Attero claims to person clocked revenues to the tune of INR 300 Cr successful FY23.
What’s Behind The Tech?
Today, the biggest situation for the e-waste processing manufacture is to retrieve the maximum magnitude of earthy worldly from dormant batteries astatine minimum costs.
If we look astatine the planetary Li-ion artillery recycling marketplace today, hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy are the 2 main Li-ion artillery recycling processes that companies similar to deploy crossed the globe. However, some processes person definite loopholes.
While pyrometallurgy has a precise debased extraction rate, hydrometallurgy demands higher worldly costs and is simply a analyzable process. Before we determination connected to explaining Attero’s tech, let’s recognize the full artillery recycling process successful depth.
It indispensable beryllium noted that dormant Li-ion batteries oregon packs are archetypal dismantled and shredded. The shredded worldly is past processed to nutrient ‘black mass’, which consists of precocious amounts of antithetic types of metals.
According to Gupta, astir of the Li-ion recycling successful India presently stops astatine the mechanical process, which is proceeding with this ‘black mass’. However, with its hydro process, Attero claims to person gone acold beyond to nutrient axenic elements from the achromatic mass.
In the hydro process, the achromatic wide is enactment done assorted chemic steps, including leaching, electrowinning, and solvent extraction.
While different planetary players similar SungEel HiTech and US-based Li-Cycle person besides adopted the hydrometallurgy process for recycling, their betterment ratio is debased astatine 75%-80% of cobalt, little than 50% of lithium, 75% of nickel, nary graphite, according to Gupta.
However, helium claimed that Attero’s patented exertion helps it retrieve much than 98% of lithium carbonate, cobalt, nickel, and graphite from these batteries.
“In our case, the archetypal happening that we bash is leach retired graphite. Now, erstwhile you bash leaching of graphite, we person 2 outputs – 1 watercourse of leach liquor oregon liquid, which is graphite-free, and different watercourse of precipitant, which is axenic graphite,” Gupta explained.
The leach liquor that comes retired is past enactment done a copper electrowinning system. Now, astatine a definite temperature, existent and voltage, copper ions dissociate from the solution and get deposited connected the cathode. Once again, we person 2 outputs — the 1 that has copper and the 2nd is simply a leach liquor, which is present copper-free.
Similarly, each metallic is extracted separately utilizing this methodology and past they are sold to assorted industries for reuse.
But erstwhile it comes to extracting Lithium, 1 tin lone precipitate 50% of lithium astatine mean temperatures and pressure. However, Attero claims to person breached that bounds arsenic good by utilizing its chemic probe and technology.
Besides, Attero claims that contempt utilizing the hydrometallurgy process, it has the lowest capex per tonne successful the world, astatine $3,200 per tonne, which is astatine slightest 40% cheaper compared to others successful the artillery recycling space.
Gupta said that the minimum capex for a regular hydro process is $5,500 per tonne and for a pyro process, it is $10,000 per tonne.
Attero’s Billion-Dollar Dream In Recycling Business
Attero, which claims to beryllium highly capital-efficient, has raised a full of astir $25 Mn truthful acold from Kalaari Capital, Granite Hill Capital, and others. In FY23, 85% of its concern came from e-waste recycling portion Li-ion artillery recycling accounted for 15% of the full business.
Attero says that it sells 99.9% axenic cobalt chips, which are battery-grade. A portion of it is exported portion the remaining is sold successful India. The institution besides sells lithium carbonate, which is 99.9% axenic and is of pharmaceutical grade.
Notably, lithium carbonate has aggregate uses crossed industries, including successful pharmaceuticals, wherever it is utilized for the attraction of immoderate neurological disorders.
Similarly, different extracted materials are besides enactment backmost into the circular economy. Currently, the startup works with astir 40 clients successful India and globally.
Gupta projects his company’s gross to interaction $1 Bn successful the adjacent 3 years, with 70% coming from Li-ion artillery recycling and 30% from e-waste.
Currently, Attero has 1 manufacturing installation successful Uttarakhand, portion plans are afoot to acceptable up different installation successful the state this year.
Besides, arsenic portion of its planetary expansion, the startup is mounting up manufacturing facilities successful Poland and Indonesia. Poland’s hub is expected to commencement moving successful 2023, portion the operations successful the Indonesian installation are expected to footwear disconnected adjacent year.
The laminitis has plans to database Attero connected the Indian bourses by 2025.
While globally, Attero competes with giants, including Umicore successful Belgium, Glencore successful Canada and Redwood Materials successful the US, the startup is witnessing contention from the likes of Lohum, ACE Green, and Metastable Materials successful India, who person besides started to make technologies to guarantee maximum extractions.
However, what could solidify Attero’s footprint successful the e-waste absorption and artillery recycling spaces is its unwavering committedness to spending connected R&D. With aggregate planetary patents nether its belt, the clime tech startup’s roadworthy up seems afloat of opportunities, particularly erstwhile determination is an accrued consciousness towards ESG practices.
The station How Attero Clocked INR 300 Cr In Revenue By Recycling E-Waste Into Industrial Gold appeared archetypal connected Inc42 Media.