DOE Offers $375 Million Loan to Battery Recycler

By Anjali Joshi

On 27 February, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO) announced a conditional loan commitment of $375 million for Canada-based lithium-ion battery recycler Li-Cycle Holdings. If finalized, the loan is expected to close in Q2 2023. This is the fifth conditional commitment under LPO’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM) to work around the localization of the EV battery supply chain. The project is the first conditional commitment under ATVM that supports battery recycling to further amplify the country’s efforts to boost domestic battery raw material supply while reducing its reliance on global supply chains or even new mining.

The loan is intended to help Li-Cycle expand its Rochester, New York facility, currently under construction, to supply recycled battery-grade lithium and other metals for the domestic manufacturing of EV batteries. Li-Cycle aims to increase production of the recycled battery materials using both scrap materials and used batteries. With low energy use, operational costs, and emissions, Li-Cycle will recover battery-grade lithium carbonate, cobalt sulfate, and nickel sulfate along with other critical battery materials. The factory, once it become fully operational, will supply battery metals for about 200,000 EVs annually. The project has already secured an agreement to supply LG Energy Solutions with recycled battery materials for its cell production in the United States.

Li-cycle’s Rochester “hub” facility will receive black mass (recycled lithium-ion battery feedstock) sourced from production scrap and used batteries from its four operational “spoke” facilities located in Rochester, Arizona, Alabama, and Ontario. Across its four operating spokes in North America, Li-Cycle currently has a total annual input processing capacity of 30,000 metric tons, which is equivalent to batteries for around 60,000 EVs. The company is also planning to build another spoke facility which will be co-located at GM’s Ultium Cells battery cell manufacturing facility in Ohio. This will be the largest of Li-Cycle’s spoke facilities.

Li-Cycle also has plans to expand its presence in Europe. The company is planning recycling facilities in Norway and Germany, and each will have 10,000 metric tons of annual processing capacity. By the end of 2023, the company expects to have a total of 65,000 metric tons per year of lithium-ion battery material processing capacity across its spoke network in North America
and Europe.

Press release: LPO Announces a Conditional Commitment for Loan to Li-Cycle’s U.S. Battery Resource Recovery Facility to Recover Critical Electric Vehicle Battery Materials (DOE Loan Programs Office)