Ascend Elements Raises $542 Million to Accelerate Production of U.S.-engineered Lithium-Ion Battery Materials
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Latest funding round is one of the largest U.S. cleantech equity private placements of 2023 to date
• Decarbonization Partners, Temasek, and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) are leading the Series D funding round.
• Ascend Elements will use the proceeds to build the United States' first commercial-scale, NMC cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active material (CAM) manufacturing facility in Kentucky
• The $542 million of equity financing will be paired with two U.S. Department of Energy grants totaling $480 million
• Ascend Elements recently signed a multi-year, $1 billion agreement to supply sustainable pCAM to a major U.S. customer beginning in Q4 2024
WESTBOROUGH, Mass., September 6, 2023-- Ascend Elements, a U.S.-based manufacturer of sustainable, engineered battery materials for electric vehicles, today announced it has raised $542 million in new equity investments, including $460 million in Series D investments and $82 million of additional investments from earlier this year. Ascend Elements' Series D round was led by Decarbonization Partners, Singapore-based investment firm Temasek, and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Other investors include Tenaska, Alliance Resource Partners, PULSE - CMA CGM Energy Fund, BHP Ventures, Fifth Wall, Hitachi Ventures, Mirae Asset, At One Ventures, Agave Partners, Alumni Ventures and other leading global investors.
The $542 million equity financing is one of the largest cleantech equity private placements in the United States of 2023 to date, and one of the top 10 equity private placements in the United States this year.
"I'd like to thank our new and existing partners for helping us deliver on our vision of producing sustainable, engineered battery materials at a commercial scale. Our sustainable lithium-ion battery materials will power EV batteries and accelerate the global transition to zero carbon emissions," said CEO Mike O'Kronley of Ascend Elements. "Together, we are investing in North America's critical EV battery infrastructure and bringing good manufacturing jobs back to the United States."
"We are excited to invest in Ascend Elements, which has established itself as a leader in the fast-growing sustainable battery materials space that is vital to accelerating the electrification of transport," said Dr. Meghan Sharp, Global Head of Decarbonization Partners. "We are pleased to collaborate on this investment alongside our JV partner, Temasek, and look forward to supporting Ascend Elements' continued expansion and technological innovation."
"We are pleased to be investing in Ascend Elements, a proven leader in the manufacturing of engineered battery materials, and a key partner in QIA's efforts to fund the global energy transition," said Mohammed Al-Sowaidi, Chief Investment Officer, Americas at Qatar Investment Authority. "This investment is aligned with QIA's strategy of supporting innovative companies shaping the future of the global economy and will be a major investment in our North American portfolio."
The funding will advance construction of Ascend Elements' Apex 1 facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which will be North America's first sustainable cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active material (CAM) manufacturing facility. CAM and pCAM are engineered materials made to precise microstructure specifications for use in electric vehicle batteries. While most of the world's pCAM and CAM are made in China from primary (mined) metals, U.S.-based Ascend Elements is commercializing an ultra-efficient method to make sustainable pCAM and CAM from black mass, the traditional output of lithium-ion battery recycling facilities. The patented Hydro-to-Cathode® direct precursor synthesis process eliminates several intermediary steps in the traditional cathode manufacturing process and provides significant economic and carbon-reduction benefits. Several peer-reviewed studies have shown Ascend Elements' recycled battery materials perform as well as similar materials made from virgin (or mined) sources while reducing carbon emissions by up to 93%.
Over the last twelve months, Ascend Elements has achieved several significant milestones, including signing its first commercial scale pCAM contract, starting construction of its Apex 1 facility, and securing two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants. In June 2023, Ascend Elements signed a $1 billion contract to supply sustainable pCAM starting in Q4 2024 with options to expand the multi-year contract to a larger quantity with a value of up to $5 billion. In October 2022, Ascend Elements began construction of its one-of-a-kind Apex 1 facility on a 140-acre site in southwest Kentucky. When complete, the 1-million-square-foot facility will produce enough sustainable pCAM for 750,000 electric vehicles per year. Ascend Elements was also awarded two U.S. Department of Energy grants totaling $480 million, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in October 2022.
Mike O'Kronley adds, "I'm extremely proud of our team and the amazing progress that we've been able to achieve over the last year. We look forward to building upon our strong momentum with support from our new and existing partners to develop the sustainable, domestic EV supply chain needed for the global energy transition."
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as sole placement agent on the Series D transaction.
About Ascend Elements
Based in Westborough, Mass., Ascend Elements is the leading provider of sustainable, closed-loop battery materials solutions. From EV battery recycling to commercial-scale production of lithium-ion battery precursor (pCAM) and cathode active materials (CAM), Ascend Elements is revolutionizing the production of sustainable lithium-ion battery materials. Its proprietary Hydro-to-Cathode® direct precursor synthesis technology produces new pCAM from spent lithium-ion cells more efficiently than traditional methods, resulting in reduced cost, improved performance, and lowered GHG emissions. With fewer batteries going to landfill and a cleaner manufacturing process, Ascend Elements is taking the lithium-ion battery industry to a higher level of sustainability.
About Decarbonization Partners
Decarbonization Partners is a joint venture between Temasek and BlackRock focused on late-stage venture capital and early growth private equity investing in next-generation companies that provide solutions and technologies to help accelerate global efforts to achieve a net zero global economy by 2050. Decarbonization Partners combines Temasek and BlackRock's expertise in sourcing and underwriting private investments, portfolio and risk management, and sustainable technology and analytics. Decarbonization Partners looks to invest in a wide range of companies that have proven technology but need capital to scale. The partnership targets multiple sectors, including Carbon Capture, Storage and Utilization, Bio and Low Carbon Products, Next Generation Energy, Advanced Mobility, Carbon Management Services and Digital Transformation. The partnership reflects BlackRock and Temasek's shared commitment to help build more sustainable and resilient portfolios, while also contributing to consistent, long-term financial returns that benefit their clients and stakeholders.
Temasek is a global investment company with a net portfolio value of S$382 billion (US$287b) as of March 2023. Its Purpose "So Every Generation Prospers" guides it to make a difference for today's and future generations. As an active investor, forward looking institution, and trusted steward, Temasek is committed to delivering sustainable value over the long term. Temasek has overall corporate credit ratings of Aaa and AAA by rating agencies Moody's Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings respectively. Headquartered in Singapore, it has 13 offices in 9 countries around the world: Beijing, Hanoi, Mumbai, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Singapore in Asia; and London, Brussels, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Mexico City outside Asia.
About Qatar Investment Authority
Qatar Investment Authority ("QIA") is the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar. QIA was founded in 2005 to invest and manage the state reserve funds. QIA is among the largest and most active sovereign wealth funds globally. QIA invests across a wide range of asset classes and regions as well as in partnership with leading institutions around the world to build a global and diversified investment portfolio with a long-term perspective that can deliver sustainable returns and contribute to the prosperity of the State of Qatar.
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