Rochester, NY — If you have a smartphone, it’s probably powered by a lithium battery.
A local facility in Eastman Business Park recycles it to help build the batteries that power electric cars. Ajay Kochhar runs Li-Cycle. On Monday, News10NBC learned that his company is getting a $375 million loan from the US Department of Energy.
The money comes from last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. Li-Cycle started seven years ago. It takes old lithium batteries, recycling lithium, cobalt, nickel, and selling these materials to make new electric batteries. Without those chemicals, you can’t make batteries.
Ajay Kochhar, CEO of Li-Cycle: We used to work in the lithium space. We saw all this lithium go to waste and we thought, well, this is crazy. How is this better than hydrocarbons? This is why we are called the Li cycle.
The loan is expected to provide 270 permanent jobs in the factory and 1,000 construction jobs. The Li-Cycle plant in Rochester could become one of America’s largest supplies of recycled battery materials, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who helped secure the loan. He visited the factory on Monday and had previously visited in September
Senator Chuck Schumer (D) New York: With this investment, Li-Cycle, listen to this, Li-Cycle will become the largest supplier of lithium carbonate in all of America.
The batteries are small, but Li-Cycle is building a factory in Eastman Business Park that can fit 50 football fields.
Brian: When the battery goes into my phone or the toy goes into my son’s electric dinosaur, that battery will end with you and you’ll be recycling it?
Ajay Kochar, CEO, Li-Cycle: Yes, that’s right. So you have to find local collection centers. They are often in retail stores. These groups take it, disconnect the batteries, and give it to us.
Only 10% of lithium batteries are recycled. Industry needs to be 90%. You can recycle them at the county ecological park behind the airport or at stores like Best Buy, Lowes, Target, Sprint, and Verizon.
Li-Cycle aims to help the United States lead the electric vehicle market, which is booming as countries aim to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions. Currently, China is the world’s leading manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicles.
Schumer: “The heart of the hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles that will soon dominate our roads will be built with battery components right here in Rochester.”
At its peak, the plant’s products could meet the needs of 203,000 electric vehicles annually. That’s enough to reduce gasoline use by about 80.6 million gallons annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Recycled lithium-ion could make it easier for companies to assemble electric vehicles in North America, which would allow car buyers to qualify for a Electric vehicle tax credit. Owners can get a $7,500 tax credit on their electric vehicle if it contains at least 40% metal and 50% battery components processed in the United States, according to the US Department of Energy.
The Li-Cycle loan is funded by the Reducing Inflation Act, signed in August 2022, which aims to reduce inflation by promoting clean energy among other things.
Li-Cycle is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and has other locations in and outside the United States
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