General Motors has acquired a stake in Canadian company Lithion Recycling. The two North American companies have also entered into a strategic partnership to jointly further develop battery recycling processes.
The investment arm of the US carmaking giant, GM Ventures, has invested an undisclosed amount in Lithion Recycling in a Series A financing round. The Canadian battery recycler plans to open its first commercial plant with an annual capacity of 7,500 tonnes next year and is planning further plants in the USA, Europe and South Korea.
The strategic partnership between Lithion Recycling and General Motors involves the validation of Lithion’s recovered battery materials for use in the production of new battery cells for GM and joint investments in the production of new battery cells for GM. The two companies have also agreed to jointly invest in research and development for recycling processes and for the recyclability of future battery designs.
For the recycling of electric vehicle batteries, Lithion aims to achieve a recovery rate of 95 per cent. Since energy from renewable sources is used for the process, the emission of greenhouse gases is to be reduced by 75 per cent compared to the mining of new battery materials, and water consumption by as much as 90 per cent.
“Working with GM marks a key step in Lithion’s commercial development and pioneers a needed breakthrough in the electrification of transportation by enabling a cost-effective and sustainable circularity in the EV battery industry,” said Benoit Couture, president and CEO of Lithion.
In announcing the investment and collaboration, GM has said that it is aggressively scaling battery cell and EV production in North America. The target here is to reach more than 1 million units of annual capacity by 2025. The US-American carmaking giant plans to eliminate tailpipe emissions from all its new light-duty vehicles by 2035. According to Jeff Morrison, GM vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, this partnership should enable the company to build a supply chain and recycling strategy that can expand as the carmaker expands its electric vehicle offering.
“In Lithion’s technology, we see the opportunity to recover and reuse raw material in our Ultium battery packs, making the EVs we produce even more sustainable and helping drive down costs,” Morrison says. Ultium Cells, the battery cell joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution, recently began producing battery cells at its first of four planned plants so far.
According to the Canadian battery recycling company, they have been operating a demonstration plant on an industrial scale since 2020 and, based on the data obtained there, are confident about the planned start of the first commercial plant in 2023. There, however, Lithion will initially only extract materials such as copper, aluminium and the so-called black mass with the cathode materials. The first hydrometallurgical plant, in which the raw materials will then be extracted from the black mass, is to be commissioned by Lithion in 2025.
Lithion Recycling also has a partnership with Hyundai Canada that dates back to March 2021.
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