In North America, bus manufacturer NFI Group and recycling company Li-Cycle are cooperating to offer battery recycling to public transport customers there. The partnership builds on a successful pilot e-bus battery recycling programme between NFI subsidiary New Flyer and Li-Cycle.
We reported on the completion of this pilot earlier this year. New Flyer supplied Li-Cycle with 45 discarded battery modules as part of the trial, which were converted into so-called black mass to recover materials such as nickel and cobalt. The discarded battery modules came to a total weight of 1,450 kilograms and were recycled at Li-Cycle’s demonstration facility.
NFI announced in a recent press release that Li-Cycle is now able to offer battery recycling for all NFI Group brands – namely New Flyer, Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Alexander Dennis and Arboc vehicles. “As zero-emission adoption continues to expand across North American public transit, the accumulation of end-of-life batteries will increase demand for heavy-duty battery recycling. NFI’s partnership with Li-Cycle will provide operators a viable option for battery recycling, in turn delivering full-circle sustainability”, the company adds.
Li-Cycle plans to complete a large battery recycling facility in Rochester in the US 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 over US$175 million in the Rochester facility in New York State. Specifically, Li-Cycle plans to refine battery-grade materials from components of spent batteries at the plant. The focus is 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. With this approach, they are able to recycle all variants of cathode and anode chemistry within the lithium-ion spectrum without the need for sorting by specific chemicals, the Canadians say.
Li-Cycle already has said demonstration plant in operation in Kingston, Canada. Through it, the company said it determined the “key design criteria for the construction of the first commercial hub” in the US. In March 2020, the recycling specialist announced it had completed its first commercial shipment of recycled battery materials there at the demonstration facility.
Incidentally, the pilot with New Flyer represented Li-Cycle’s first programme in the heavy-duty vehicle sector. By transitioning the pilot into a partnership with NFI, batteries from heavy-duty applications are now manifesting themselves as a source of recycled battery materials. The Canadians put their recovery rate rather sweepingly at “95 per cent of all lithium-ion battery materials”.
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