GM Boosts Battery Recycling Capabilities

General Motors is seeking to advance its carbon footprint credentials by investing in a company recycling lithium-ion battery materials.

Its investment arm, GM Ventures, has made a strategic investment in Lithion Recycling’s Series A financing round, supporting a new GM-Lithion strategic partnership agreement to pursue a circular battery ecosystem using Lithion’s battery recycling technology.

This collaboration between GM and Lithion will focus on:

  • Validation of Lithion’s recovered battery materials for use in the production of new batteries and potential to acquire battery materials;
  • Joint investment in research and development for both recycling processes and recyclability of future battery design;
  • With a claimed recovery rate of over 95%, and using Quebec’s green energy, Lithion’s technology and operations hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 75% and water usage by over 90% compared to mining battery materials.

In 2023, Lithion will launch its first commercial recycling operations, drawing on data from its highly successful industrial-scale demonstration plant commissioned in January 2020. The opening of this facility, with a capacity of 7,500 metric tons per year of lithium-ion batteries, will be followed in 2025 by the launch of Lithion’s first hydrometallurgical plant. Lithion has multiple facilities in the pipeline for the US, Europe and Korea, in line with its vision to support rapid deployment and enhanced battery end-of-life management globally.

In August, Ultium Cells, GM’s joint venture with LG Energy Solution, opened its first US battery cell plant, with two additional plants under construction. A fourth planned battery cell plant will bring GM’s projected total US battery capacity to 160 GWh. GM now has binding agreements securing all its battery raw material to reach annual planned capacity in 2025, including lithium, nickel, cobalt and full cathode active material supply. As the company moves forward, it will work to increasingly localize its battery materials supply chain to North America.

Jeff Morrison, GM vice-president, global purchasing and supply chain, said: “GM is aggressively scaling battery cell and EV production in North America to reach our target of more than one million units of annual capacity by 2025 and we plan to eliminate tailpipe emissions from all our new light-duty vehicles by 2035 – so we are building a supply chain and recycling strategy that can grow with us. In Lithion’s technology, we see the opportunity to recover and reuse raw material in our Ultium battery packs, making the EVs we produce even more sustainable and helping drive down costs.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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