EVs may be more sustainable, but how can industry leaders source an adequate supply of critical battery materials in a way that is both scalable and environmentally-sound? One of the best answers to this dilemma, it seems, is battery recycling, which helps to reduce the pressure placed on landfills whilst keeping critical battery materials (such as cobalt and lithium) in productive use for longer. With this in mind, Li-Cycle has just announced a new EV battery recycling plant in Alabama which can process up to 10,000 tonnes – in other words, enough for about 20,000 EVs per year.
Li-Cycle is described as a company on a mission to “create an environmentally sustainable supply of critical battery materials” to support the auto industry’s transition to electric vehicles. The company’s proprietary ‘Spoke & Hub Technologies’ use a combination of safe mechanical size reduction and hydrometallurgical resource recovery specifically designed for lithium-ion battery recycling.
Li-Cycle’s battery processing method is an alternative to the pyrometallurgical method, which Li-Cycle believes can lower costs while saving energy. In fact, Li-Cycle believes its method will enable up to a 95 per cent efficiency rate compared to the industry average of 50 per cent, and will help to establish a safe way of recycling lithium-ion batteries without any landfill waste while reducing carbon emissions.
“This facility enhances our ability to support the recycling needs of our diverse and growing customer base in North America to ensure lithium-ion battery material is recycled in an environmentally friendly and safe manner,” shares CEO of Li-Cycle, Ajay Kochar. “Li-Cycle is creating an essential domestic supply of recycled material to support EV production and assist automakers in meeting their domestic production content requirements.”
Currently, Li-Cycle has a battery recycling plant in New York, Arizona, and Ontario. According to the company, the fourth and latest in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will increase processing capacity to 30,000 tonnes a year. The Tuscaloosa facility is undeniably impressive, with over 100,000 square feet and another 120,000 square feet in warehouse space. Moving forward, Li-Cycle will be able to recycle 60,000 EV batteries across North America per year.