An Overview of Battery Recycling
Its estimated 5% of lithium-ion batteries worldwide are recycled, amounting to 7.2 million tonnes of waste. Alongside this, Cirba Solutions expects that by 2030 the US’ lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity will reach 900GWh.
As EV penetration increases there is likely to be a global material supply imbalance. Demand for materials such as lithium, nickel and cobalt are already greater than the supply. This will increase further as vehicle electrification increases. Battery recycling can provide a critical, more sustainable resource for the EV battery supply chain, helping to bridge the gap. However, the economic viability of battery recycling is still questionable. Mining for virgin materials often remains a cheaper option for battery producers. That said, the EV battery industry has a strong market growth. Consequently, Cirba Solutions estimates that the availability of end-of-life (EoL) batteries and production scrap for recycling to increase up to 8 times from 2022 to 2030.
Established in 1991, Cirba Solutions has steadily grown into the battery recycling industry as the energy transition has taken hold. It began operations under the name Cirba Solutions in 2022. The company has seven operational facilities in North America, including battery collection, warehousing, sorting, and black mass production. Its facility in Lancaster, Ohio currently produces black mass. In August this year it commenced construction to increase the plant’s shredding capacity, the extension coming online in 2024. Additionally, it announced plans to enter the post treatment market. Revealing its ambition to have hydrometallurgical plants in Lancaster, Ohio by 2025 and Columbia South Carolina by 2027.
As of Q3 2023, the company has raised over USD377 million from EQT infrastructure, the Marubeni Corporation, and the Department of Energy (DoE). These funds will be used for the expansion of its lithium-ion processing capabilities and R&D. Cirba Solution is increasing its operational footprint in North America with the aim of producing enough recovered materials to support one million EV batteries by 2028. It expects that 70% of the target will be met through materials recovered at its plants in Lancaster and Columbia. Currently, the company has partnerships with Honda, BMW, GM and 6K energy, receiving feedstock from them.
Cirba Solution has said it will focus on NCM (nickel, manganese, and cobalt) recycling, rather than moving into LFP (Lithium iron phosphate). This is because a majority of OEMs use NCM chemistry, and LFP is not as cost effective to recycle. However, they are still conducting small scale internal R&D into LFP recycling.
The ultimate goal of the EV battery industry is to create a closed loop system, where EoL batteries of all kinds provide the feedstock for future batteries. The US’ battery recycling market is currently…
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Sources: Cirba Solution Analyst Webinar