GM’s Ultium Partners With Li-Cycle to Recycle EV Battery Scrap

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Hummer EV battery
Ultium Cells has partnered with Li-Cycle to recycle material scrap from battery cell manufacturing. // Photo courtesy of General Motors Co.

Ultium Cells, a joint venture between Detroit’s General Motors Co. and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution, has announced an agreement with Li-Cycle in Ontario, Canada to recycle up to 100 percent of the material scrap from battery cell manufacturing.

The process will allow Ultium to recycle battery materials including cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese, and aluminum; 95 percent of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries.

“Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain,” says Ajay Kochhar, president, CEO, and co-founder of Li-Cycle. “This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining.”

The hydrometallurgical process that recycles the materials emits 30 percent less greenhouse gas than traditional processes.

“GM’s zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90 percent of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025,” says Ken Morris, vice president of electric and autonomous vehicles at GM. “Now, we’re going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials.”

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100 percent of the battery packs received from customers, including any packs replaced through warranty service. Most GM electric vehicles are repaired with refurbished packs. Ultium batteries will feature a modular design, making them easy to reuse or recycle.

“We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended,” says Thomas Gallagher, COO of Ultium. “This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes.”

The recycling process is slated to begin later this year.

Ultium will mass-produce Ultium battery cells to advance the push for a zero-emissions, all-electric future. GM and LG are investing $2.3 billion in the joint venture to support electric vehicle manufacturing in the U.S.

Ultium Cells in Lordstown, Ohio will equal the size of 30 football fields and have an annual capacity of more than 30 gigawatt hours with room to expand.

Li-Cycle works to provide a customer-centric end-of-life solution for lithium-ion batteries while creating a secondary supply of battery materials. As more automotive, energy storage, consumer electronics, and other industrial and household applications depend on lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, these industries will have to use improved technology and supply chain innovations to better manage battery manufacturing waste and end-of-life batteries as well as address a growing demand for scarce battery-grade raw materials, Li-Cycle says.

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