The Canadian battery recycling company Li-Cycle has announced its first factory outside North America, in Norway. What is more, the company is building another recycling factory in North America in cooperation with GM’s Ultium Cells. The plant will be Li-Cycle largest facility to date.
The plant in Norway is to be built in the south of the country and realised as part of a joint venture with the Norwegian companies Morrow Batteries and Eco Stor. The recycling plant in Norway is scheduled to go into operation at the beginning of 2023 and will have a capacity to process up to 10,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries per year.
The exact location has not yet been determined, Li-Cycle refers to the facility as the “Norwegian Spoke”. The company has divided its recycling system into so-called “hubs” and “spokes” (i.e. hubs and spokes like a rim). In the spokes, the used batteries (from electric cars, energy storage systems and waste from battery production) are processed. However, only the mechanical crushing and sorting takes place there. The hydrometallurgical processing into the reusable battery materials takes place at the “hubs”. The only hub so far is in Rochester in the USA.
According to Li-Cycle, it chose Norway because the spread of electric cars is very high there and has already started much earlier than in other European countries – correspondingly, larger quantities of used batteries will accumulate in Norway sooner. “This is a significant step for Li-Cycle, as we deploy our proven lithium-ion battery resource recovery solution to the European market and execute on our global growth strategy with key industry partners,” said Ajay Kochhar, president, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle. “Norway’s early leadership in EV adoption and ecosystem is a beacon for electrification globally, creating a robust market for both battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries domestically.”
In addition to the plant in Norway, Li-Cycle announced that it will expand its recycling collaboration with Ultium Cells, which was signed in May 2021. The site of the General Motors and LG Energy Solution joint venture’s first battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, will be home to the sixth “Spoke” facility in total by early 2023. With 15,000 tonnes of battery material, the plant will be larger than the one in Norway or the other plants in North America. The 10,000 tonnes from Norway and the 15,000 tonnes in Ohio will significantly increase the company’s global recycling capacity to 55,000 tonnes per year.
While some of the other facilities are strategically planned near battery and vehicle plants, the construction of a recycling facility right next to a battery plant is another step. “Building this Spoke facility alongside Ultium Cells’ plant is expected to substantially optimize costs and logistics as we transform manufacturing scrap from the plant into highly valuable material, using our unique, sustainable and fit-for-purpose approach,” says Kochhar. Kevin Kerr, Ultium Cells’ plant manager in Ohio, hopes for a “decisive step towards improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes”.
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