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Canadian technology to recover strategic metals from spent Li-ion batteries gets $18m in funding

Electric bus in Montreal, Quebec. (Image by Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr).

Canadian company Lithion Recycling received C$22.5 million ($18m) from the Quebec government to continue developing a technology to recover 95% of strategic materials from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries and industrial waste. 

The new funding adds up to what the company raised earlier this year from Quebec-based Fondaction, and from Korea’s IMM Investment Global, an investment fund that already has established relationships with cathode, cell and battery pack manufacturers such as LG, Samsung, SK Group, POSCO, and Hyundai.

According to Lithion, the recent capital infusion will help with the building and commissioning of its first commercial battery dismantling and reprocessing plant in Quebec in 2023, as well as with the building and launching of a state-of-the-art technology development center to work on adapting its solution to future battery chemistries and materials specifications. 

The funds will also be used to carry out detailed engineering studies for the construction of Lithion’s own hydrometallurgical plant in Quebec. 

“Lithion aims to provide the industry with the sustainable development technology required to build a circular economy for batteries,” Benoit Couture, the firm’s president and CEO, said in a media statement.

“Technological advances and process optimization in our demonstration plant over the past two years increased the attractiveness to global players in the transportation electrification ecosystem who want to license the Lithion solution to address the needs of their local markets. We are entering an exciting phase of our business development here, in Asia, and, soon, in the US and Europe.” 

The company’s solution starts with the mechanical separation of plastic and metals in Li-ion batteries to then run the devices through hydrometallurgical processes that purify the various metals contained in the cathode. 

The hydrometallurgical processes include a lixiviation step that dissolves metallic oxides in an aqueous solution, as well as several precipitation and separation steps to obtain high-purity components.