Original article published in The Hindu – Business Line
Lohum Cleantech, a lithium ion battery maker and a battery recycling solutions company, has firmed up plans to expand its manufacturing capacity of lithium ion batteries from 300 MWh to 1000 MWh (1 GWh) and its recycling capacity 10 times, from 1,000 tonnes per annum to 10,000 tonnes per annum.
“The expansion project, to be taken up on a modular mode, is likely to be completed within the next 12-18 months and will effectively take the recycling capacity to about 2 GWh of recyclable material,” Rajat Verma, Co-Founder of Lohum Cleantech, said.
“We had raised about ₹50 crore and are in the process of raising about ₹300 crore for the proposed expansion project. Talks are at advanced stage and commitments have been made. We expect to close the funding within the next 4-5 months to pave the way for expansion,” Verma told BusinessLine.
Witnessing the huge amount of lithium ion going waste without being recycled, Rajat Verma and Justin Lemmon, based in LA, founded Lohum in 2018 to manufacture lithium ion batteries and also take up recycling of batteries to extract all the chemicals used in them for reuse. They now have a capacity to recycle abut 1,000 tonnes per annum, equivalent to 200 MWh.
The company addresses battery business across three cycles, first life with new batteries for two and three-wheeler OEMs (original equipment manaufacturers) and stationary applications including for UPS and telecom, second life, which enhances the life of exiting batteries, and lastly end-of-life management offering recycling solutions. Given the government focus on setting up giga factories in the country, the company sees a huge unfolding opportunity to provide the entire lifecycle management solutions.
“While the PLI scheme is meant for setting up new gigafactories, NITI Aayog may come out with similar initiatives for the recycling space, which will be extremely important for a market which does not have its own resources but will have to depend on imports,” Verma explained.
Bootstrapped till 2020, it raised $7 million investment from institutional investors led by Baring PE Partners India earlier this year. And is now gearing up to raise about ₹300 crore for its expansion project.
Why recycling is key
The key raw materials required for manufacturing a Li-ion cell are lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite. Barring graphite, these resources are almost non-existent in India. India, like most of the world, relies on other countries such as Chile, Congo, China and Australia for sourcing these key materials. Therefore, recycling is important, he explained.
Through the recycling processes and repurposing Li-ion batteries for their second-life, Lohum is working towards providing solutions to the challenges of burgeoning demand for the batteries and its raw materials. As a first step to build the Li-ion circular ecosystem, Lohum has a dedicated battery collection centre that gets a continuous supply of end-of-life batteries from a network of responsible suppliers.