North American recycler Li-Cycle has formally opened its first lithium-ion battery recovery facility at Sülzetal near Magdeburg in Germany.
Operations started in August and a formal ceremony with company executives and political leaders was held on 27 September. The plant is Li-Cycle’s first ‘Spoke’ facility outside North America and additional operations in the continent are planned for France and Norway.
Li-Cycle Spokes produce black mass which is rich in valuable battery metals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt. The material is then processed at the company’s ‘Hubs’. The first located in Rochester, New York State, is expected to commence commissioning later this year ahead of processing up to 35 000 tonnes of black mass per year.
Li-Cycle, in partnership with Glencore, plans to repurpose part of the existing Glencore metallurgical complex at Portovesme on Sardinia into a hub for Europe. The first phase is due to start processing black mass in the first half of 2024.
A full-scale second phase is expected to deliver one of the largest sources of sustainable recycled battery materials in Europe.
The Sülzetal plant utilises Li-Cycle’s patented ‘Generation 3’ technology. It processes lithium-ion battery waste, including complete electric vehicle battery packs, without the need for discharging, dismantling or thermal processing. One battery recycling line is now fully operational, and a second parallel line is expected to start operations within weeks.
Each line has the capacity to process up to 10 000 tonnes of lithium-ion battery material per year. A further 10 000 tonnes of ancillary capacity also planned, which would make the Germany Spoke one of the largest facilities of its kind in Europe.
Li-Cycle says Sülzetal’s location near key battery manufacturing facilities makes it an ideal location. Germany represents the largest market for both battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life lithium-ion batteries in Europe. The plant currently employs approximately 60 people.
‘Our Germany Spoke strengthens our position as a leading global battery recycling and resource recovery company and we are excited to continue expanding globally to build local and sustainable closed-loop battery supply chains,’ says Tim Johnston, executive chair and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
‘Our growing footprint in Europe is helping provide an environmentally friendly source of raw materials to support the continent’s transition to electrification.’