What is Black Mass?

Today I was reading a new report about a material called “black mass.”

It’s not a new object in space, or an underground religious ceremony. Black mass is the name given to the raw product that’s created during EV battery recycling.

Old EV batteries are smashed up, ground to bits, ground again, and then refined into a dark, fine-grained powder that’s packed with all the key elements from inside the battery: lithium, manganese, cobalt, and nickel. As you can see for yourself in the photo below, the resulting mixture looks exactly like, well — a black mass. (Whoever named it clearly didn’t hire a marketing team.) 

But what it lacks in advertising appeal, it makes up for in chemical potency.

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A material called “black mass.”

Black mass is one of the most efficient EV battery recycling methods to date. It’s a straightforward way to harvest the key ingredients from old batteries and process them for use in new ones. And we’re going to be hearing a lot more about it.

As the CEO of a recycling company put it, the highly valuable minerals inside EV batteries are “infinitely recyclable,” and can be used again and again in an endless loop. The goal is a circular supply chain that reduces costs, carbon, and waste.

Two of the world’s biggest companies already have a head start on production. Mining giant Glencore and chemical giant BASF are building facilities that can produce black mass at commercial scale.

Mining giant Glencore and chemical giant BASF are building facilities that can produce black mass at commercial scale.

When you consider that Tesla, Ford, GM, Stellantis, NorthVolt, and dozens of others are putting billions and billions into building NEW batteries, it makes sense that there’s going to be built-in demand for when it comes time to recycle those batteries.

All battery roads may one day reach their end — and fresh new beginning — in black mass.

But obstacles remain. Europe has been slow to certify the process, limiting the market for the material overseas. And even with advances in scale, black mass won’t be able to fill the current demand for more raw materials.

There aren’t enough used EV batteries yet, and even once there are, the supply growth in new production is so massive that recycling will only make up a small percentage of material for at least a decade or more.

What is Black Mass?

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The rest of the lithium and other materials will have to come from new sources.

Our own Gerardo Del Real has identified a key raw lithium supplier that’s developing a “crystal lithium” project that can meet this urgent demand.

Gerardo has the track record to prove that he knows what he’s doing: during the early stages of the lithium boom he made 10,000%+ on a battery materials company. He’s determined to do it again — find out why he’s so excited about this new “crystal lithium” opportunity.

This is a unique moment in EV history, and I can’t stress enough how today’s new battery technologies will lead to tomorrow’s gains. Crystal lithium is already at the top of that list.

And black mass will one day be on that list as well. 

Though while they’re at it, I think they could put a bit more work into coming up with a more appealing name before it goes mainstream. I personally think they should consider calling it “battery grit.” Or better still, given its potential to shift the economics of EV recycling: “power dust.” But perhaps best of all is its potential for an endless recycling loop: “infinity grains.” It’s a material we’ll see a lot of in the years to come.

John Carl

John Carl
Editor, Daily Profit Cycle