Ultium Cells Signs Deal to Recycle Battery Scrap

DETROIT, Mich. — Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions, announced Tuesday that it’s signed an agreement with Li-Cycle to recycle up to 100% of its material scrap from battery cell manufacturing.

The new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells to recycle battery materials, including cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum. Ninety-five 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,” Ajay Kochhar, Li-Cycle’s president and CEO and co-founder, said in a statement. “This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining.”

Ultium is building a $2.3 billion electric-vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Lordstown. The plant expects to begin production by the middle of next year.

The hydrometallurgical process through which these battery materials will be recycled emits 30% less greenhouse gas than traditional processes, helping to minimize environmental impact. 

“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% of the battery packs received from customers, including any packs replaced through warranty service. Most current GM EVs are repaired with refurbished packs. Ultium batteries will feature a modular design, also making them easy to reuse or recycle.

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

Ultium and Li-Cycle will begin the new scrap recycling process later this year.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.