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Ascend Elements raises $162M to fund recycled battery materials plant

An overhead shot of Ascend's plant under construction on a muddy plot of land in Kentucky.

The company is building a large plant in Kentucky. Photo: Courtesy of Ascend Elements

Battery recycling startup Ascend Elements topped up its Series D with $162 million as it races to complete its first large-scale recycled battery processing plant.

Why it matters: The infusion brings the 12-month funding total to $704 million.

Details: The raise drew Just Climate, the venture firm launched by Al Gore's Generation Investment Management, as well as Clearvision Ventures, and Irongrey.

  • It adds to the $542 million that Ascend announced last fall, led by Decarbonization Partners, Temasek and Qatar Investment Authority.

Of note: Ascend was also selected to receive $480 million in two matching funds from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Catch up fast: Ascend Elements is among a handful of companies working to establish a new manufacturing sector in the U.S.: making battery materials from recycled lithium-ion batteries.

What's next: The startup, based in Westborough, Mass., is building a sprawling 1-million-square-foot plant in Kentucky that it's calling Apex 1.

  • Ascend is aiming to open the site in early 2025. It will produce what are known as precursor and cathode active materials for electric vehicle batteries.

💭 Our thought bubble: From panels to interviews, investors and bankers tend to discourage founders from using venture dollars to fund construction — that giving up equity is an expensive way to build a factory.

  • But with banks still reluctant to back first-of-a-kind plants like the one Ascend is building, venture investment is often the only source of capital available these days. DOE matching funds help here, too.
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