After years of expanding its battery manufacturing capabilities to power its lift trucks, the German logistics provider Kion Group AG has struck a deal with a Canadian company to form a “strategic battery recycling partnership,” the company said today.
Kion partnered with Li-Cycle Holdings Corp., an Ontario-based tech firm that specializes in lithium-ion battery resource recovery.
The move could address one of the criticisms of the increasingly powerful batteries that power warehouse automation platforms with zero on-site emissions, but rely on extensive mining for their raw materials and can be difficult to dispose of at the end of their life.
The partnership comes after Kion had opened a joint venture in 2020 known as Kion Battery Systems (KBS) in cooperation with BMZ Holding GmbH to make lithium-ion batteries for industrial lift trucks. The partners then added a second production line in that plant in 2022.
Kion’s new deal echoes similar deal by other battery makers, such as the 2021 move by Canadian forklift battery maker UgoWork to partner with Lithion Recycling to recycle its lithium-ion batteries.
The partnership between Kion and Li-Cycle will remain in place until 2030 and will initially be carried out in a new Li-Cycle recycling plant in the Magdeburg, Germany, area, positioning Kion to produce its products in a circular economy, the company said.
“Li-Cycle´s sustainable Spoke & Hub process enables up to 95 percent of the mass of a lithium-ion battery to be recovered and the critical minerals contained in those batteries to be used to manufacture new batteries. This makes us one of the pioneers in the material handling industry in the field of recovery and recycling of modern lithium-ion batteries,” Andreas Krinninger, member of the Kion’s executive board, said in a release.
The first step of the process takes place at its “Spoke” facilities, which use Li-Cycle’s submerged shredding technology to produce “black mass,” an intermediate product which contains highly valuable metals. The second step involves a hydrometallurgical process that produces battery-grade materials such as lithium carbonate, cobalt sulphate, and nickel sulphate from the black mass in a process with minimal solid waste streams to landfill, zero wastewater discharge, and low air emissions.
Li-Cycle currently operates four Spokes located in Canada and the U.S. that can together recycle more than 50,000 tons of lithium-ion battery material per year. The company is also developing Spokes in Germany, Norway, and France