Ultium battery cells from GM electric vehicles have an official recycler: Canada's Li-Cycle

The Canadian firm Li-Cycle will recycle leftover raw material from the manufacturing of Ultium battery cells for upcoming General Motors electric cars, the automaker announced Tuesday in a press release.

Li-Cycle will recycle “up to 100% of the material scrap from battery-cell manufacturing,” including cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese, and aluminum, the release said.

Of the recovered material, 95% can be used for production of new batteries “or for adjacent industries,” the release said. It’s unclear what will be done with the remaining 5% of material recovered.

In addition, a hydrometallurgical recycling process will cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 30% over traditional processes, according to GM.

General Motors Ultium batteries

General Motors Ultium batteries

Recycling scrap material from manufacturing is different from recycling complete battery packs at the end of their service life, or reusing EV battery packs in other applications. GM claims it has also recycled or reused all packs received from customers—including any packs replaced through warranty service—since 2013. Most current GM electric cars are repaired with refurbished packs, the automaker said.

The modular design of new Ultium batteries will make reuse and recycling easier, GM said. The Ultium cells are part of a core propulsion strategy that uses the same large-format pouch cells across its EVs, with a wireless battery-management system will help assess the condition of cells and modules.

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV

The first model due with the new Ultium battery strategy is the 2022 GMC Hummer EV SUT pickup truck, scheduled to start production later this year, with an SUV version following in 2023 as a 2024 model.

GM started with the Ultium battery tech—and forming a long-term partnership with LG Chem—before developing the Hummer EV itself. The automaker just last month announced a second LG joint-venture battery plant in Tennessee, alongside an Ohio location. The Tennessee site is near GM’s Spring Hill Plant, due to build the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV beginning in 2022.

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