General Motors and LG Energy Solution have formed Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture centered around the production of batteries for future GM vehicles. That company has entered into an agreement with Li-Cycle to recycle up to 100 percent of the material scrap from battery cell manufacturing.
The partnership will allow Ultium Cells to recycle battery materials (cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese, and aluminum). A press release from the company says that it expects 95 percent of those recycled materials to be used in future battery products or in 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,” said Ajay Kochhar, Li-Cycle’s president and CEO and co-founder. “This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining.”
Photo courtesy of General Motors
This effort plays into the common concerns surrounding battery manufacturing from mining of raw materials to end-of-life disposal. It’s also on par for the sustainability efforts that GM has put forward in recent years, extending across numerous aspects of its business including the recycling of clay used in the modeling process.
GM says that the “hydrometallurgical process through which these battery materials will be recycled emits 30 percent less greenhouse gas than traditional processes”. This will lessen the overall environmental impact of battery production.
“GM’s zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90 percent of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025,” said Ken Morris, GM vice president of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles. “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 that have been replaced as the result of warranty service. The company says that most current GM EVs are repaired with refurbished packs.
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle will begin the new scrap recycling process later this year.