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Battery recycler Li-Cycle prepares for a “big chance”

In the five years since Li-Cycle was founded, battery recycling companies have expanded rapidly to include four commercial plants and one hub. But as the production of electric vehicles rises, the current operation looks like a test run, said Ajay Kochhar, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

“Imagine a future that is completely electrical or the majority are electrical. It’s a big, big opportunity and challenge. We’re already thinking there,” he said. Over the next few decades, “it will continue to grow by orders of magnitude.”

Battery recycling will become an important part of the supply chain as automakers expand EV production. Sam Buelsamid, Principal Analyst at Guidehouse Insights, said the amount of used batteries is too low to generate much recycling demand today, but it will change soon.

“Ten years from now, it won’t be,” said Abuel Samid. “They need to build that ability pretty quickly.”

Just four years ago, some industries suspected that battery cells developed from recycled materials would match battery cells made from virgin metal. Since then, battery recyclers have overcome much of that skepticism.

“If you reprocess and re-purify, you won’t lose any effect,” Abuelsamid said. “Basically, there is the same thing as when extracted from the ground.”

Batteries can be assembled from recycled materials at a lower cost than unused materials, and recycling reduces carbon dioxide emissions in battery manufacturing, Kochhar said.

“The overall environmental footprint that results from recycled products is much less than we need to dig it out of the globe in a complex supply chain,” Kotcher said. “The world has changed 180 degrees with awareness of recycling.”

In May, Li-Cycle partnered with General Motors with the goal of recycling up to 100% of the scrap from battery cell manufacturing. 95% of GM’s next-generation Ultium batteries, cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum, can be used in new batteries and adjacent industries.

According to Kochhar, the range and efficiency of recycled batteries should not be as good as or better than batteries made of unused materials.

“The impurities that sometimes cause problems from virgin sauces have already been resolved in the system,” he said.

According to Kochhar, recycling batteries and reusing parts simplifies and streamlines manufacturing.

He said battery makers can rely mostly on one value stream that has already been refined, rather than drawing material from multiple supply chains, because the elements needed for future batteries already exist in used batteries. ..

“There are a lot of impurities when digging ore from the ground or, in the case of lithium, pumping something out of salt water,” he said. “What we are getting is already very sophisticated and there are already very few impurities that tend to be problematic.” Battery recycler Li-Cycle prepares for a “big chance”

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