Nov. 23, 2023

Lohum Cleantech's green mission

A force to reckon with

Lohum is pursuing a mission to become the world’s largest producer of sustainable battery/energy transition raw materials through recycling, repurposing, and low-carbon refining

By Arbind Gupta. Assistant Editor, Business India

Baring Private Equity Partners-backed Lohum Cleantech Pvt Ltd is betting big on the rapidly-growing EV battery market. The Noida-headquartered company, founded in 2018, is today commanding 70 per cent share in the lithium-ion battery recycling space through its patented technologies. The company plans to end the current fiscal year with a turnover of over Rs600 crore, while also touching Rs2,500-crore in the next five years. It has built advanced technology for manufacturing first-life lithium-ion battery packs for two and three-wheelers, as also second-life (repurposed) lithium-ion battery packs for stationary storages. Lohum’s DETX battery price index makes it easy to determine accurate prices of battery materials and provides ‘future’ buyback prices.

Currently, 20 per cent of the company’s revenue comes from two, three-wheeler battery manufacturing, while 80 per cent revenue is generated by its activities in the recycling field, where it uses its patented NEETM Li-ion battery recycling and extraction technology that yields top quality materials, produces zero waste and is highly scalable. As of October 2023, Lohum’s central recycling hub, the ‘reclaim’ facility, processes 10,000 tonnes of batteries annually, equivalent to batteries needed to power 50,000 EV sedans every year.

Backed by 600 people and a strong R&D facility, led by over 50 engineers and technical staff, Lohum is the only integrated high-yield reuse and recycling player globally. The company, hosting the most extensive R&D in li-ion battery materials extraction, specialises in reviving end-of-life EV batteries and maximising their potential before recycling, through integrated cell reuse capabilities. While the company’s base hub is in India, it is now in the process of expanding across the US and Europe. Its customers and partners are all across the globe in the US, EU, the Middle East, East Asia and South-East Asia.

In a short span of time, Lohum has created a strong partner/customer network in the local and global EV ecosystem, comprising names like MG Motor India, MG Nepal, Mercedes Benz Energy, Stellantis India & Asia, Ather, ACKO, Log9 Materials, Vecmocon, Altigreen, Tata Motors Nepal and IIT Kanpur. Lohum is slated to save 4 million tonnes of CO2e, equal to the CO2e of 15 million flights between Delhi and Mumbai by 2026. Lohum has offset over 65,000 tonnes of CO2e as of September 2023.

“Our mission is to become the world’s largest producer of sustainable battery/energy transition raw materials through recycling, repurposing and low-carbon refining. Lohum’s NEETM technology is the company’s flagship innovation, a multi-stage hydro-metallurgical energy transition material recycling and extraction process that regenerates 95 per cent of all battery raw materials from used batteries, with purity rates averaging on 99.5 per cent. The technology is chemistry-agnostic, meaning that NEETM can recycle batteries of every cell chemistry,” says Rajat Verma, founder & CEO, Lohum Cleantech, which has raised about $50 million from Baring Private Equity, Cactus VP, Talbros, Tiger Global and various other deep-tech VCs and institutional investors. The company is looking to raise about $100 million more in the next round of funding.

At its recycling facilities located in Noida (India’s largest li-ion battery recycling capacity: 110,000 sq ft across two facilities), the company recycles lithium-ion batteries of all cell chemistries and form factors via its NEETM technology. Thereafter, it recovers critical battery raw materials ready for use in the production of cathode active materials (Li, CO, Ni, Mn) and anode (graphite) via its Metelec li-ion recycling technology, which enables us to recover 95 per cent of all li-ion metal salts at 50 per cent lower CO2e than mining. The combined operation safely recovers black mass, and process it to extract high-purity metal sulphates and carbonates ready for use in cathode and precursor production.

Reverse logistics network

The company, as an integrated full-service li-ion battery lifecycle management company, has created an extensive domestic and global reverse logistics network to procure used li-ion batteries for recycling, as also re-purposing. Via proprietary transport technologies, it has ensured quick and safe transit of batteries in a transparent manner. The company has an exhaustively traceable system that has been built from customers’ perspective.

It offers end-to-end battery material traceability. All batteries are bar-coded and made traceable throughout the battery recycling and reuse process. Lohum is the only company in India, which is licensed to import li-ion battery scrap.

“Our high purity battery metals and metal salts, precursor materials, Cathode Active Materials (CAM) and higher value alloys are utilised by various energy transition ecosystem stakeholders and auxiliary industries. The demand for these energy transition materials arises from the EV ecosystem, the renewables technology, infrastructure and research ecosystems, and industries like aerospace, defence, space, pharmaceuticals, and metallurgy,” explains Verma.

Verma has grown Lohum into India’s largest producer of sustainable li-ion battery raw materials, through a combination of recycling, repurposing and low-carbon refining. He has achieved this while establishing Lohum as a hub for innovation – a fact corroborated by Lohum’s recognition as ‘the most innovative company of the year’ by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2022. He has spent 22 years in the technology industry.

As a pioneer in the electronic waste management ecosystem, he has developed several solutions across the e-waste value chain for markets across India, the US and GCC. He is also an active early-stage technology investor. A prolific academic, Verma holds engineering degrees from IIT Kanpur and Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Lohum hosts two synergistic 300 MWh battery testing, dismantling and reassembly facilities within 1-2 km of the ‘reclaim’ facility, where the company’s battery repurposing activities also take place. The company, an integrated end-to-end battery lifecycle management provider, specialises in reviving end-of-life EV batteries and maximising their potential before recycling, through integrated cell reuse capabilities.

Lohum has got proprietary cell testing technology to maximise used battery life. These repurposed second life batteries are used for applications like renewable energy storage, commercial ESS and Grid ESS.

“With our second life battery reuse technology, we recirculate LIB cells for use in stationary energy storage applications, which are batteries to power the world around us, and intelligently store renewable energy. We have the quickest turnarounds from battery receipt to ‘remaining useful life’ (RUL) estimation. We have a fully digitised system through which we can provide near real-time prices for any battery at any stage of its life,” affirms the Lohum CEO.

“At Lohum, we always recommend the repurposing or reuse of batteries in second-life applications to our partners, before finally recycling them via our NEETM technology, slowing down the demand for hazardous conventional mining as well as reducing our energy dependence on imports via a parallel supply chain and saving millions of tons of CO2e as well as water,” he adds.

The Lohum DETX (Delhi Energy Transition Exchange) battery price index, provides accurate and weighted ‘future’ pricing information for battery materials and battery buyback. This technology platform stabilises the ecosystem and insulates stakeholders against price volatility and supply shocks. Moreover, at any point of time, the company can provide accurate and instant salvage value, based on battery data discoverable through its BMS – linked App and software APIs and thus maximize scrap battery price.

Lohum’s central recycling hub processes 10,000 tonnes of batteries annually, equivalent to batteries needed to power 50,000 EV sedans every year.

Apart from reverse logistics, the company helps OEMs fulfill their EPR (extended producer responsibility) needs as directed by the Battery Waste Management Rules (BWMR 2022). The Indian EV industry’s rapid growth is driving up battery demand just as swiftly, which also indicates an incoming battery waste crisis. At the forefront of this energy transition challenge, Lohum has recently partnered with Log9, a leading Indian deep technology company that specialises in advanced EV battery technology and the only manufacturer of lithium-ion cells in India.

The partnership is aimed at establishing a stable and innovative framework for the responsible disposal of Log9’s LTO batteries, which are long-life batteries capable of more than 15,000 cycles in EV use cases. Lohum as an EPR partner will enable Log9 to seamlessly meet its material recovery targets, when its LTO batteries reach the end of their life in their first application. Besides, providing unprecedented insights into battery material trade, Lohum’s DETX will empowers Log9 to lower the emissions of their pioneering LTO batteries, while maximising the profitability of all their batteries at any stage of life.

“Our aspiration at Log9 is aligned with India’s commitment to achieving Net Zero goals and contributing to a sustainable planet. Through Lohum’s capabilities, we play a vital role in this journey by responsibly recycling and repurposing EV batteries. This breakthrough in the EV sector allows us to accelerate urban mining of key materials that go into the making of li-ion cells. With this partnership, we are moving closer to our ‘net zero’ goals and it fits our mission of pioneering responsible energy,” says Pankaj Sharma, co-founder & director, LOG9.

Among many partnerships, in September 2022, Lohum partnered with Glencore, a Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company, to advance circularity in the li-ion battery supply chain. Lohum supplies Glencore with 10,000 tonnes of speciality chemicals for the battery supply materials of worth $200 million as part of the partnership.

Lohum is Mercedes-Benz Energy’s first Asian partner for lithium-ion battery recycling and repurposing schedule of 50MWh per annum. In May 2023, IIT Kanpur partnered with Lohum for R&D collaboration in sustainability and other core areas. Kanwar Singh Nalwa, professor, department of sustainable energy engineering, IIT Kanpur, will lead the team that will collaborate with Lohum on projects aimed at enhancing lithium-ion battery testing technologies and approaches for evaluating battery raw material quality. The collaboration’s efforts will aid in the development of technologies critical to the safety and longevity of batteries.

In June 2023, MG Motor India collaborated with Lohum for second-life EV battery solutions (5kWh Battery Energy Storage System: BESS). Lohum has also partnered with Acko General Insurance to recycle and reuse EV batteries under warranty insurance. In July 2023, Lohum partnered with Altigreen to recycle EV batteries.

Strategic partnership

Lohum and Vecmocon, a leading Indian EV intelligence company backed by Tiger Global and Blume Ventures, have now joined forces to revolutionise the lifecycle management of EV batteries. This strategic partnership aims to accelerate the widespread adoption of EVs by combining the pioneering battery testing technology of Lohum and battery intelligence & real-time data monitoring capabilities of Vecmocon.

The partnership’s technological collaboration will make batteries safer, more reliable and long-lasting, powered by cutting-edge battery analytics. Vecmocon will integrate its crucial data attributes collected in real-time, powered by machine learning algorithms, with Lohum’s data systems, sharing important battery parameters collected through Vecmocon’s i-VEC drive offering. This partnership will ensure the optimal utilisation of EV batteries, extending battery life, enabling second-life usage and facilitating optimal recycling of li-ion batteries.

“Vecmocon and Lohum share a common vision of a cleaner and more sustainable future, and this strategic partnership is a significant step toward achieving that goal. By combining our expertise and resources, we aim to drive the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in India and revolutionise the way we use and recycle batteries,” says Peeyush Asati, founder & CEO, Vecmocon.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Vecmocon, as the partnership aligns perfectly with our shared mission of advancing sustainable technologies. Vecmocon’s mission of making EVs intelligent and safe, via its cutting-edge technology by harnessing the power of advanced battery analytics significantly aligns with our core capabilities of enabling second life use of batteries. Together, we will contribute to a closed loop circular economy and create a more sustainable ecosystem for electric vehicles in India,” informs Lohum’s Verma.

With all these development in place, innovation and technology-led Lohum is pursuing its mission to become the world’s largest producer of sustainable battery/energy transition raw materials through recycling, repurposing, and low-carbon refining. Through its proprietary technologies the company, in a short span of time has emerged as a leading player in li-ion battery recycling space in the country where EV landscape is growing exponentially. Adopting a holistic approach, the company is engaged in integrated end-to-end battery lifecycle management. In fact, Lohum is today the only integrated battery recycling, repurposing and material refining company and this has provided it a distinct edge in the market.

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