New Flyer launches recycling pilot for electric bus batteries

New Flyer Industries, the parent company of MCI, is reporting success with a heavy-duty lithium-ion battery recycling pilot.

The North American bus manufacturer teamed up with Li-Cycle Corp. to recycle more than 3,200 pounds of lithium-ion batteries, resulting in recovering critical battery materials from electric bus batteries.

Li-Cycle, North America’s largest lithium-ion battery recycler, offers a proprietary, closed-loop lithium-ion battery resource recovery service that produces minimal solid waste, and zero liquid and air emissions. The process can sustainably produce battery-grade lithium, cobalt and nickel products.

The pilot is Li-Cycle’s first program in the heavy-duty vehicle space. New Flyer provided Li-Cycle with 45 end-of-life lithium-ion battery modules (used for research and development)≤ totaling 3,200 pounds. The batteries were processed at Li-Cycle’s Spoke facility and turned into a black mass, which was then further refined to recover critical materials, such as nickel and cobalt.

“As our customers transition to zero-emission mobility, they do so with a focus on cradle-to-grave sustainability. The demand for battery recycling is growing, so too is the desire to lessen environmental impact on our communities,” said Chris Stoddart, President of New Flyer and MCI, in a statement announcing the pilot’s success. “Our pilot with Li-Cycle is delivering just this, and we are optimistic in offering battery recycling in the future.”

New Flyer sees triple benefit

He added that New Flyer is committed to providing sustainable mobility solutions, from procurement through vehicle retirement.

New Flyer
New Flyer’s Xcelsior Electric bus

“Working with Li-Cycle delivers a triple sustainability benefit: We recover critical resources and divert them from landfills, provide them for reuse in the battery supply chain, and do so through Li-Cycle’s proprietary clean recycling process that minimizes impact to surrounding environments,” Stoddart said.

Li-Cycle’s patented Spoke & Hub Technologies recover 95% of all lithium-ion battery materials — extracting high-grade materials for battery reproduction — at a cost lower than mined and refined material.

Key differentiators of the Spoke & Hub model include an automated process at Spoke facilities, where batteries are received in any state of charge and are mechanically shredded with no need for sorting, dismantling, discharging or thermal processing.

Patented Li-Cycle Hub technology then intakes the black mass produced at Spoke plants, processes the materials using hydrometallurgy, and outputs high-purity battery chemicals to be redirected to the lithium-ion battery supply chain and the broader economy.

Fully sustainable

Li-Cycle’s technology sets it apart from most other recycling facilities, which use thermal processes to recover only a portion of the materials present in spent batteries. This approach recaptures only half the contents, as the lithium is lost, going up smokestacks and leading to further emissions. Li-Cycle’s wet-chemistry process requires lower energy consumption than traditional high-temperature processes and is fully sustainable, with no solid or liquid waste and zero impact on air emissions.

“We are thrilled to work with New Flyer in spearheading closed-loop resource recovery of electric bus batteries,” said Kunal Phalpher, Chief Commercial Officer at Li-Cycle. “As of 2019, about 425,000 of the world’s buses are electric, and our goal is to support the growth of electrification with solutions to end-of-life challenges associated with lithium-ion batteries.”

Phalpher added that the pilot program demonstrates how Li-Cycle is supporting the transition to sustainable transport. It’s serving the dual purpose of reducing hazardous waste while recovering critical materials so they can be reintroduced into the supply chain.

“We are excited to work with New Flyer in closing the loop for electric bus products,” he said.

CALSTART members

New Flyer and Li-Cycle are both members of CALSTART, an international nonprofit dedicated to accelerating the pace of clean technology and the adoption of clean transportation. Li-Cycle provides sustainable and safe customer-centric solutions and technology to solve the global end-of-lifecycle lithium-ion battery opportunities while meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical battery materials.

Li-Cycle has won multiple industry awards for its innovative technology, including the 2019 CV Energy Innovation Awards and being named among the 2020 and 2021 Global Cleantech 100. Also, Li-Cycle’s Ajay Kochhar was named an honoree of Canada’s prestigious Clean 16 sustainable leaders list for 2020, and New Flyer’s own Jennifer McNeill was named to the country’s Clean 50 list. Li-Cycle currently operates two Spoke facilities across North America, located in Kingston, Ontario, and Rochester, New York.

New Flyer operates the Vehicle Innovation Center dedicated to advancing bus and motorcoach technology and providing essential workforce development through electric bus training, now available online. New Flyer is testing automated vehicle technology and remains committed to the development of technology standards that deliver safe, clean, sustainable, connected mobility options to communities.

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