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Startup Company Recycles Electric Car Batteries

Energy
Li-Cycle uses a two-step process to recover more than 80% of the materials in old lithium ion batteries. Michael Movchin / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

As electric vehicles become more mainstream, the demand for lithium ion car batteries is growing. But to increase production, the industry needs more lithium, cobalt, and nickel.


One possible source is batteries that are no longer in use.

"It's a bit of a waste to just have batteries sitting in a landfill. And there's opportunity there to reuse those materials, make them as good as new," says Kunal Phalpher of Li-Cycle.

Li-Cycle uses a two-step process to recover more than 80% of the materials in old lithium ion batteries.

"We take the batteries and shred them," Phalpher says. "And then phase two of the process is then to take that mixed material and separate each of the elements through chemical processing."

The approach generates less carbon pollution than mining those minerals from the ground. And it solves another problem the booming industry is grappling with: how to safely and sustainably dispose of spent batteries.

Li-Cycle has a demonstration plant in Canada, and Phalpher says it's building a new facility in Rochester, New York. Last December, the company shipped its first commercial load of recycled battery material to a customer – a critical milestone on the road to addressing this global challenge.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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