Li-Cycle™ gets a boost from Kingston presence
Selecting Kingston as its research and development home saved Mississauga-based start-up both time and money
They may not have a tailpipe, but electric vehicles can still create their own set of environmental issues.
Take, for instance, the lithium ion batteries found in modern electric and hybrid cars. These batteries are typically only warrantied for eight years or less, and their longevity depends on how frequently the car is driven.
Once the battery stops holding a charge, you might have to shell out thousands of dollars to replace it and figure out how to dispose of the hazardous waste from the old battery.
That’s where Li-Cycle™ comes in. The Mississauga-based company helps recycle lithium ion car batteries, reclaiming 95 per cent or more of the materials in the process.
“When we founded the company in 2016, we realized we needed to iterate our product fast as it takes a lot of time and resources to go from ideation to commercialization,” says Ajay Kochhar, the company’s president and CEO, who is also one of its co-founders.
Their search for the right research and development partner led them to Kingston, where they met GreenCentre Canada and Kingston Process Metallurgy (KPM). With KPM’s help, the company was able to quickly develop their products and processes without the need to purchase and staff their own expensive chemistry facilities.
Skip ahead to today, and Li-Cycle now maintains its own commercial plant in Kingston with over 20 staff, and the company is processing more than 2,500 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries per year. Just two years ago, that number was 50 tonnes.
With the company now scaling its operations outside Canada – it is set to open its second commercial plant in Rochester, New York later this year – it is starting to attract attention globally. Li-Cycle was recently named a 2020 Global Cleantech 100 company by the Cleantech Group, and American science magazine Popular Mechanics recently featured the company in a story on battery recycling. Yet the Canadian success story has no plans to wind down its operations in Kingston.
“Kingston offered the right location, the right partners in GreenCentre Canada and KPM, and the right experience in mining and metallurgy,” Kunal Phalpher, Li-Cycle’s chief commercial officer, says. “As we continue to scale, the ecosystem continues to provide benefits to us.”