May 27, 2021: Canadian lithium battery recycling firm Li-Cycle signed an agreement on May 11 with a General Motors joint venture to recycle scrap materials from battery cells.
GM and LEG Energy Solution have formed the JV ‘Ultium Cells LLC’, which will use a hydrometallurgical process to extract cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminium from dead batteries and process the materials to use in the production of new cells.
Having spent $2.3 billion on the new company, based in Ohio, US, Ultium says its facility will have an annual battery production capacity of 30GW. The firm has already posted dozens of jobs on its new website.
Touting its company’s recycling technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, Li-Cycle president and CEO Ajay Kochhar said the combined efforts of all companies involved would ‘be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain’.
“GM’s zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025,” said GM president of electric and autonomous vehicles Ken Morris.
Li-Cycle has been growing rapidly since it secured a series C equity funding round to develop its New York commercial hub in November 2020.
This February, the company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and in April it announced the building of a third facility in Arizona.
The company’s recycling technology is a so-called ‘spoke and hub’ model, which means it collects and shreds the batteries to separate their inert materials (such as the plastic) before processing the other high-value materials.
“The world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better manage battery manufacturing waste and end-of-life batteries and to meet the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade raw materials through a closed-loop solution,” it says.