US Officials Visit Li-Cycle’s Battery Recycling Plant in Arizona

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The Importance Of Battery Recycling

Lithium battery recycling is an essential process that plays a significant role in conserving resources, protecting the environment, and ensuring the sustainability of energy storage technologies. With the rapid growth of electric vehicles, portable electronics, and renewable energy systems, the demand for lithium-ion batteries has surged, making their recycling more important than ever.

Recycling lithium-ion batteries allows us to recover valuable materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese. This not only preserves natural resources but also helps to stabilize the supply chain for battery production. Additionally, recycling these batteries reduces the demand for new materials, thereby minimizing the adverse effects on the environment caused by mining and extraction of raw materials for battery production.

Disposing of lithium-ion batteries in landfills can lead to soil contamination, water pollution, and the release of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. Recycling these batteries prevents them from entering landfills, reducing waste and lowering the risk of environmental contamination. Moreover, proper recycling processes ensure that lithium-ion batteries, which can pose safety risks if not handled or disposed of properly, are safely dismantled and neutralized, reducing the risk of accidents.

Recycling lithium-ion batteries is more energy-efficient than extracting and processing raw materials for new batteries. By reusing the materials recovered through recycling, we can reduce the overall energy consumption associated with battery production, contributing to a more sustainable energy system.

Economic benefits of lithium battery recycling include creating job opportunities in the recycling industry, promoting local economies, and reducing dependency on imported raw materials. This can help foster economic growth while also promoting sustainable practices. Furthermore, as the demand for lithium-ion batteries continues to grow, so does the need for more efficient recycling technologies. This drives innovation in the recycling industry, leading to the development of new methods and technologies that can improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of battery recycling.

Li-Cycle Got A Friendly Visit From US Officials Recently

It’s pretty clear that lithium battery recycling is crucial for the future of the whole cleantech industry, and we shouldn’t be surprised that government officials are trying to be supportive of such efforts. Most recently, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, and U.S. Senator, Mark Kelly visited Li-Cycle’s plant in Arizona.

Why? Because Li-Cycle is revolutionizing the way we recycle lithium-ion batteries. At its plant in Gilbert, Arizona, Li-Cycle uses its proprietary Spoke & Hub Technologies™ to recover critical materials from end-of-life batteries. This process allows them to recover more than 95% of all materials from the battery, including cobalt, nickel, and lithium.

This is a significant improvement over traditional recycling efforts, which typically only recover about 50% of the materials in a battery. Li-Cycle’s process also eliminates the need for harmful chemicals or high temperatures that are often used in other recycling processes. This makes it much safer for both workers and the environment.

In addition to its Arizona plant, Li-Cycle is also developing a recycling hub in Italy with Swiss miner and commodity trader Glencore. This hub will be used to further develop its innovative technologies and expand its reach into Europe.

While visiting the site, both Secretary Granholm and Senator Kelly were accompanied by Li-Cycle’s co-founder and CEO, Ajay Kochhar. They toured the company’s Spoke facility and witnessed lithium-ion batteries being recycled using Li-Cycle’s proprietary submerged shredding technique. The Arizona Spoke location employs advanced technology to process complete electric vehicle (EV) batteries and energy storage batteries directly. The importance of Li-Cycle’s secure and eco-friendly Spoke & Hub Technologies™ was discussed, emphasizing their significant role in developing a cleaner, domestic lithium-ion battery supply chain within the United States.

“The Biden-Harris administration has a vision for a clean energy economy that is powered by American workers, innovators, and entrepreneurs,” said Secretary Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Department of Energy. “Companies like Li-Cycle are helping to strengthen our energy security and advance the next generation of battery manufacturing and recycling technologies – bringing Arizona and the nation one step closer to reaching our climate goals.”

Operations at Li-Cycle’s Arizona Spoke began in May 2022, boasting a processing capacity of 18,000 tonnes of lithium-ion battery materials annually. The facility also has potential for future expansion, including the option to add a second main line. Gilbert, the site of Li-Cycle’s Spoke, offers not only close proximity to commercial customers for sustainable battery material supply, but also a skilled workforce and existing infrastructure that benefits the company’s operations. Li-Cycle is dedicated to fostering strong relationships with the local community, collaborating with various organizations such as the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and more. Currently, Li-Cycle employs around 45 individuals in Arizona.

“We were excited to have hosted Secretary Granholm and Senator Kelly at our Spoke recycling facility in Arizona,” said Ajay Kochhar, co-founder and CEO of Li-Cycle. “The southwestern region of the U.S. is experiencing rapid growth as part of North America’s broader battery supply chain, and we look forward to continuing to utilize our patented technology to sustainably recycle lithium-ion batteries in the region. Arizona provides significant opportunities for Li-Cycle as the state continues to lead as a clean technology hub and leading battery marketplace. We are excited to continue supporting local jobs and the growth of Arizona’s clean tech industry.”

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Future Expansions

Li-Cycle was recently granted a conditional commitment for a $375 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. This funding will support the development of the company’s first Hub resource recovery facility, known as the “Rochester Hub,” which is currently under construction in Rochester, New York. The transaction is expected to close by mid-2023.

The Rochester Hub is scheduled to commence commissioning in late 2023. Designed to process up to 35,000 tonnes of black mass annually, including output from the Arizona Spoke, the facility can accommodate materials sufficient for up to 225,000 electric vehicles. Besides producing battery-grade nickel and cobalt sulphate, the Rochester Hub is anticipated to become North America’s first source of recycled battery-grade lithium carbonate.

“Clean energy leaders like Li-Cycle are bringing jobs back to states like Arizona and reducing our reliance on foreign sources of the critical minerals that power our modern economy,” said U.S. Senator of Arizona, Mark Kelly. “I appreciate the opportunity to see their technology firsthand alongside Secretary Granholm and look forward to continuing the work to boost our clean energy manufacturing and production.”

Featured image: Left to right: Christopher Moon, Li-Cycle’s Arizona Spoke Plant Manager, Ajay Kochhar, Li-Cycle’s CEO and co-founder, Secretary Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Department of Energy, and Mark Kelly, U.S. Senator of Arizona, gather at Li-Cycle’s lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Gilbert, Arizona, observing a collection of consumer batteries prepared for recycling. Image provided by Li-Cycle.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba