New Flyer has completed a pilot project with Li-Cycle to recycle batteries from electric buses. The bus manufacturer supplied Li-Cycle with 45 end-of-life battery modules, which were converted into so-called black mass to recover materials such as nickel and cobalt.
The pilot project represented the Canadian recycling specialist’s first programme in the heavy-duty vehicle sector. The discarded battery modules came to a total weight of 1,450 kilograms were recycled in a demonstration plant operated by Li-Cycle. The quantities of materials that could be reused from the mass are not clear from an accompanying statement from New Flyer. It merely states in general terms that Li-Cycle’s patented technology allows for the recovery of 95 per cent of all lithium-ion battery materials.
“As our customers transition to zero-emission mobility, they do so with a focus on cradle to grave sustainability,” expressed Chris Stoddart, president of New Flyer. He said the demand for battery recycling is growing and, in light of the pilot project with Li-Cycle, they are optimistic they will be able to offer battery recycling in the future.
Li-Cycle plans to complete a large battery recycling facility in the U.S. in 2022, with an annual capacity sufficient to manage the recycling of materials from approximately 120,000 e-car battery packs. The company announced in September 2020 that it would invest more than $175 million in the facility in Rochester, New York state. Construction is scheduled to begin this year. Specifically, Li-Cycle plans to refine battery-grade materials from components of spent batteries at the plant. The focus will be primarily on cobalt, nickel and lithium.
Li-Cycle describes its recycling approach as a two-stage process using mechanical and hydrometallurgical or wet-chemical processes. It is possible to recycle all variants of cathode and anode chemistries within the lithium-ion spectrum using this approach, without the need for sorting by specific chemicals, the Canadians say. As early as the end of 2020, the company plans to complete a facility in Rochester that will perform pre-processing of old lithium-ion batteries.
In Kingston, Canada, Li-Cycle already has said demonstration plant in operation. Through it, the company said it determined the “key design criteria for the construction of the first commercial hub” in the United States. In March 2020, the recycling specialist announced it had completed its first commercial shipment of recycled battery materials there at the demonstration facility.
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