The South Korean chemical company LG Chem has invested 24 billion won (approx. 17.6 million euros) in Jae Young Tech, a battery recycling specialist also based in South Korea. However, the joint plans mainly relate to North America.
Jae Young Tech was founded in 2016 and has a technology for recovering high-purity lithium from used batteries. Both companies want to establish a joint venture for battery recycling in North America by the end of 2023, as LG Corporation now announces.
LG Chem will manage the business of the joint venture and Jae Young Tech will be responsible for the technology. The joint venture will also work with local companies that have supply chains in North America. While the Korean company does not explicitly mention it in the announcement, the thinking behind the North American plans is likely also related to the EV tax credit requirements in the US – in future, an increasing share of battery materials must come from North America, in order to qualify for subsidies.
Jae Young Tech’s recycling technology focuses on lithium and effectively reverses the usual process: As a rule, components such as manganese, cobalt and nickel are first dissolved out using liquid chemicals and then the lithium is processed. According to Jae Young Tech, however, impurities form in the liquid, which would worsen the purity of the lithium. Therefore, in the company’s process, the lithium is first melted at higher temperatures before the other materials are processed. This should make it possible to recover up to 85 per cent high-purity lithium – without reducing the purity of nickel, manganese and cobalt.
Almost exactly one year ago, LG Chem and its battery division LG Energy Solution acquired a stake in the Canadian company Li-Cycle and selected it as the preferred recycling partner for lithium-ion batteries in North America.
This multi-partner strategy is to be continued in the recycling business. “We will establish the cornerstone for entering the global battery recycling business through equity investments,” says Sanghyub Lee, Vice President Corporate Strategy at LG Chem. “We will secure competitiveness through distinguished technologies and take the lead in building a circulating economy in the future.”