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Li-Cycle starts operations at first European 'Spoke' facility

The facility has created 50 new jobs

IMAGE: Li-Cycle's new German facility
Li-Cycle's Spoke facility in Magdeburg, Germany. (Courtesy Li-Cycle Holdings Corp.)

Li-Cycle Holdings Corp. has started commercial operations at its first Spoke recycling facility in Europe, in Magdeburg, Germany.

Spoke facilities convert waste battery material into three main product streams: plastics, copper/aluminum, and “black mass” which contains metals essential to battery production including lithium carbonate, nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate. Other marketable metals in black mass include graphite, copper and aluminum.

The facility's second processing line is expected to be in operation later in 2023. Each main line has the capacity to handle up to 10,000 tonnes of lithium-ion battery material per year.

With an additional 10,000 tonnes of ancillary capacity planned, the plant is expected to have a total capacity of 30,000 tonnes per year, making it the largest Spoke in Li-Cycle’s (LICY-N) current portfolio.

“This is a great milestone for Li-Cycle as we continue to strengthen our position as a leading global battery recycling and resource recovery company. The new Spoke facility in Germany will serve as an anchor point for Li-Cycle’s expansion in Europe and support our growing customer base, including global battery manufacturers and automakers, in the largest battery market on the continent,” Tim Johnston, co-founder and executive chair of Li-Cycle, said in a statement.

“We are excited to continue expanding our footprint around the world to build local and sustainable closed-loop battery supply chains to support the clean energy transition.”

The approximately 200,000-square-foot facility, which includes 100,000 square feet as warehousing capacity, has created 50 jobs.

Across its five Spoke facilities – in Kingston, Ont., Rochester, N.Y., Gilbert, Ariz., Tuscaloosa, Ala. and now Magdeburg – Li-Cycle is expected to have a total input processing capacity of up to 81,000 tonnes of lithium-ion battery material per year.

It plans further Spoke facilities in France and Norway to increase its capacity to over 100,000 tonnes per year.

Its Rochester Hub facility is expected to commence commissioning later this year and process up to 35,000 tonnes of black mass annually. The Hub facilities accept recycled material from Li-Cycle's Spoke sites.

Another Hub in development via a joint venture with Glencore, the Portovesme Hub in Italy, has a feasibility study underway. Once operational, it is expected to have a processing capacity of 50,000 to 70,000 tonnes of black mass per year.

Magna launches first-to-market eDecoupling unit

Aurora, Ont.-based Magna International Inc. (MG-T) has started production on a modular eDecoupling unit to support multiple battery electric vehicle (BEV) programs for a German original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

A bolt-on solution, the eDecoupling unit is an electromechanical device that disconnects the e-motor from the drive shaft in electric vehicles (EVs) when propulsion power is not needed, reducing energy consumption and increasing efficiency. According to a release, it contributes to increased electric driving ranges of up to nine per cent.

It accomplishes this by decreasing drag torque losses of the e-motor and gearbox, with an activation time of under 100 milliseconds.

“Our new and innovative modular eDecoupling unit aligns perfectly with OEMs’ in-house manufacturing strategies for electric drive systems,” Diba Ilunga, president of Magna Powertrain, said in a statement. 

“Due to the compact design of the unit, we’ve successfully minimized added package space and weight in both axial and radial direction, which has helped ensure that it can be scalable for use across electric and hybrid vehicles from B segment up to SUVs and LCVs (long combination vehicles).”

Production of the new unit will occur at Magna’s powertrain facility in Lannach, Austria.

First Hydrogen vehicle trial a success

Vancouver-based First Hydrogen Corp.’s (FHYD-X) hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered vehicle has achieved a range of 630 kilometres on a single refuelling during a fleet trial with U.K. utility SSE Plc.

SSE largely undertook the tests on major roads in Aberdeen, Scotland. Thanks to light traffic conditions, the vehicle ran at maximum speed limits, when safe to do so, for longer periods than it had done previously, according to a release. The vehicle consumed an average of 1.58 kilograms of hydrogen per 100 metres. During most of the journeys, the vehicle was able to maintain its battery by recharging through braking.

SSE was the first utility business to test First Hydrogen’s vehicle.

Rock Tech Lithium signs LOI for carbon-neutral power

Rock Tech Lithium Inc. (RCK-X) has signed a letter of intent, through its German subsidiary, with the German energy corporation LEAG to acquire carbon-neutral power for Rock Tech’s planned lithium hydroxide converter in Guben.

"Our goal is to produce climate-neutral lithium with zero waste in Europe as part of a new industrial circular economy centred on batteries,” Dirk Harbecke, Vancouver-based Rock Tech’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. 

“We need strong partners like LEAG for this. We could push the region's structural transformation starting in Guben and establish an ideal setting for our long-term investments. LEAG and Rock Tech both stand for change, which is why I am sure that we will jointly implement outstanding ideas.”

The first step will be the installation of photovoltaic systems onto the roof in Guben. The facility may also receive hydrogen from LEAG via the installation of an electrolyzer. 

Lithium America splits into two firms

The shareholders of Vancouver-based Lithium Americas Corp. (LAC-T) have voted to split the company into two entities – Lithium Americas (Argentina) Corp. and Lithium Americas Corp.

The separation is scheduled to come into effect in by October 15.

“We are delighted to see our shareholders’ overwhelming support for the separation,” Jonathan Evans, Lithium Americas’ president and CEO, said in a statement.

“Following the separation, the Lithium Americas (NewCo) team is committed to advancing the Thacker Pass project toward production to support the critical North American lithium supply chain. Meanwhile, the Lithium Argentina team will advance Caucharí-Olaroz toward full commercial production and pursue development opportunities in its significant growth pipeline in Argentina,” he said

Shareholders also passed a resolution allowing General Motors LLC and its affiliates to own over 20 per cent of the issued and outstanding shares of the new Lithium Americas company. GM had previously announced a US$650 million investment in the company.

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