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Energy Department loans $375M to lithium recycling company with AZ ties

The U.S. Department of Energy is loaning lithium-battery-recycling company Li-Cycle $375 million to build a hub near Rochester, New York.

The plant will receive material prepped by a 140,000-square-foot facility that opened in Gilbert late last spring.

Lithium ion batteries power everything from electric vehicles to smartphones and are essential to storing renewable energy. But despite the scarcity and environmental impact of mining some of their components, only a tiny fraction are recycled. In part, that’s because many methods are inefficient, dangerous and unsustainable.

Li-Cycle’s approach has “spoke” facilities like Gilbert’s break batteries down into plastics, metals and a mixture called black mass, which they ship to a hub facility like the one to be built in Rochester. There, a proprietary, water-based process recovers lithium, cobalt, nickel and other battery components.

Last week, another recycling firm, Ecobat, announced plans to build a battery recycling plant in Casa Grande.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.