Battery startup plans new US plant to feed EV Boom

Li-Cycle’s commercial plant processes discarded lithium-ion batteries. (Image courtesy of Ly-Cycle.)

Canadian startup Li-Cycle Corp. plans a third battery-recycling facility in North America, doubling its capacity in the region as the global electric-vehicle boom gathers momentum.

The center, to be located near Phoenix, will be capable of processing up to 10,000 metric tons of end-of-life batteries and battery-manufacturing scrap per year, the company said in a statement Wednesday. That’s equal to about 20,000 electric vehicles, according to Tim Johnston, Li-Cycle’s co-founder and executive chairman.

Li-Cycle is among a handful of companies looking to cash in on demand for the recovered materials, with companies including Tesla Inc. expressing concerns over nickel supplies and the lithium market showing signs of tightening. As the first generation of EVs nears retirement, a big quantity of electronic scrap is expected to be created.

The site will be able to directly process full EV packs without any dismantling. It’s specifically designed to handle large-format batteries, typically 500-kilogram packs, according to Johnston. This “is a significant step forward” as the industry currently relies on a “heavy level of dismantling” of battery cells, he said in an interview.

Li-Cycle already has facilities in Rochester, New York, and Kingston, Ontario. Phoenix is near regions where the company expects continued growth in the quantity of lithium-ion batteries available for recycling. It provides access not just to Nevada and Texas, where Tesla has a big presence, but to California, where the company expects to see an “increased volume of batteries” after the state was an early EV adopter, said Johnston.

Construction is expected to start this quarter, with commissioning expected early in the first quarter of next year, according to Johnston.

(By Yvonne Yue Li)

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