September 12, 2023 – SQM Lithium Ventures is proud to announce its investment of US$2,574,500 in Altilium, a UK-based clean technology group focused on supporting the transition to net zero. The investment is part of Altilium’s Series A funding round. Altilium is the second company to join the portfolio of SQM Lithium Ventures, the corporate venture arm of the lithium business of Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM), one of the world’s leading producers of battery-grade lithium.
The Series A funding marks a significant milestone for Altilium, validating its pioneering approach to producing low-carbon, sustainable battery materials from recycling lithium-ion batteries. The investment from SQM will accelerate the commercialisation of Altilium’s proprietary battery recycling technology, which enables the recovery of lithium and other critical minerals from end-of- life EV batteries, in a quality and format ready for direct reuse in the production of new batteries.
This investment also marks a major milestone for SQM Lithium Ventures. With growing global demand for lithium, driven by the transition to clean energy technologies such as EVs, recycling looks set to play a critical role in the development of a sustainable circular supply chain for battery materials.
Altilium is currently the only company in the UK producing battery-ready cathode active materials (CAM) from spent EV batteries, at its Battery Recycling Technology Centre in Devon. SQM’s investment will support the scale-up of this demonstration line, paving the way for the roll-out of Alitilum’s first commercial plant in the UK, as well as the retrofit of its SX-EW hydrometallurgical plant in Eastern Europe to recycle battery waste from over 24,000 electric vehicles in 2024.
Altilium COO, Dr Christian Marston, commented: “We are delighted to have SQM as our partner as we embark on this next phase of growth to produce low carbon and sustainable lithium from recycling old EV batteries, returning valuable critical materials for direct reuse in an EV supply chain. Together with SQM, we will build a circular economy and close the loop in battery manufacturing.”
Altilium CEO, Kamran Mahdavi, commented: “This investment will allow us to accelerate our efforts to develop a closed loop lithium-ion battery supply chain and validates our vision that the lithium and critical minerals needed for EV batteries will come from recycling existing waste streams, decarbonising the automotive supply chain for a sustainable transport future.”
Carlos Díaz, Executive Vice President of SQM’s Lithium Business, commented: “At SQM, we think ‘outside the box’ to adapt new technologies more quickly in order to meet the demands brought by our competitors and fast-changing industry, and we have reached incredible levels of internal innovation, R&D, and technological development. In the past year, we have seen the impact of working together with start-ups, as an external source of creative ideas.
“The investment in Altilium allows SQM to become involved in the creation of a new industry: the recuperation of critical metals like lithium, nickel and cobalt from recycled batteries. This will allow us to add value to a new battery supply chain while maintaining efficient levels of resource consumption, lower carbon footprint, and minimum water use. Our top priorities right now are attracting the best technical talent to SQM and partnering with the most innovative, high- impact start-ups in our industry.”
María de los Ángeles Romo, Director of SQM Lithium Ventures, added: “The link with entrepreneurs, technology and start-ups allows us to have quicker reaction time to the challenges the market presents, like reduction in water use, new lithium applications, and processes associated with electromobility and value-added initiatives. We will be better prepared to solve global problems, with a sustainable, regional focus.”
To date, Altilium has secured over US$ 6.5M in backing from UK government innovation awards, including grants from the Faraday Institutions Battery Challenge and the Automotive Transformation Fund, and is collaborating with leading academic partners, including Imperial College London, to develop green processing technologies to recover lithium and other battery metals from end-of-life batteries. In 2022, the company completed its seed funding, including an oversubscribed crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs.
About SQM Lithium Ventures
SQM Lithium Ventures, launched in December 2022, seeks to invest in growing companies solving challenges related to lithium, water, and electromobility. The up- to-$40M fund invests tickets of $1 to 3 million, plus follow-on investment amounts outside the $40M, in companies across the globe, and also operates an acceleration program based in Antofagasta, Chile, for earlier-stage startups within the same three verticals. Parent company SQM is one of the world’s largest producers of lithium for use in electric vehicle batteries.
The fund has a global presence, with team members in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. After evaluating more than 300 companies and completing two investment committees to date, the fund is advancing rapidly in conversations with several of the most innovative companies in its verticals.
The selection process consisted of several months of diligence and meetings with the Altilium team, culminating with an investment committee with participation of SQM’s CEO, largest shareholders, and key company leaders. SQM plans to add value with its global presence and vast expertise in lithium value chains, as well as a role in the company’s board of directors.