5 minutes with… Kunal Phalpher, chief commercial officer, Li-Cycle, Canada

5 minutes with… Kunal Phalpher, chief commercial officer, Li-Cycle, Canada

October 8, 2019
Lloyd Fuller

Success in the lithium-ion recycling business requires companies to develop a low-cost processing technology. E-Waste World Conference & Expo speaker Kunal Phalpher from Li-Cycle reveals why his innovation could also increase material recovery over traditional pyrometallurgy processes

How did you end up in the industry?
My career has had a common thread of clean-tech and sustainability. Through my experience in the renewable energy sector, I shifted gears to the energy storage sector which brought me into the lithium-ion battery space. After working for some time on the battery manufacturing side, I ended up on the other side of things dealing with end-of-life batteries.

You’re the chief commercial officer at Li-Cycle. What does that involve?
My key function is to lead a team focused on revenue generation. One end of that is to develop sources of lithium-ion batteries from various verticals including e-waste, automotive and energy storage. The other end of revenue generation is to manage the sale of the end-products of our process (the fundamental building blocks of lithium-ion batteries such as nickel, cobalt and lithium).

What exciting innovations are you working on at the moment?
The complete concept of our technology for lithium-ion battery resource recovery can be considered innovative. Since incorporation in 2016, Li-Cycle has developed and validated a unique process to recover 80-100% of all Li-ion battery constituent materials using a two-step mechanical and hydrometallurgical system. This advanced resource recovery process, alongside concentrated efforts focused on battery sourcing from various supply chain players and a continuous prioritization of safety, are fundamental elements supporting Li-Cycle’s goal of global commercialization of Li-Cycle Technology. Being a part of the team at Li-Cycle allows me to contribute to the growth of the business and development of new business models to apply our technology to the market.

I think in the context of lithium-ion batteries as a subset of e-waste, a big challenge is the batteries entering the wrong recycling stream. This often results in fires that can have serious impacts on companies

What would you say is the single biggest challenge facing the e-waste sector today?
I think in the context of lithium-ion batteries as a subset of e-waste, a big challenge is the batteries entering the wrong recycling stream. This often results in fires that can have serious impacts on companies. I think part of the challenge is to start at the source of these batteries and educating the public in proper separation and disposal of household items.

Is legislation tough enough?
This varies significantly by region, but I think collaboration is needed by different jurisdictions to learn from each other and evolve legislation quickly to tackle the challenge as a global problem.

Which countries are success stories for you when it comes to dealing with e-waste and why?
In terms of collection of e-waste, I would say Europe as a region is ahead of other areas of the world with relatively high collection rates.

Where do you predict the future of e-waste is heading?
I think there will be a growing problem with embedded devices (those with lithium-ion batteries not easily removable from the devices). I think solutions will be required to collaborate between battery recyclers like Li-Cycle and the e-waste processors to safely address these issues.

It is great to see many of the electronics manufacturers present at the event to learn about their views on the e-waste problem and plans for contributing to tackling the problem

You’re speaking at E-Waste World Conference & Expo. What are you looking forward to?
It is great to see many of the electronics manufacturers present at the event to learn about their views on the e-waste problem and plans for contributing to tackling the problem. The main thing from my presentation that I hope the audience takes away is the fact that solutions for lithium-ion battery recycling are available today and not a technology of the future.

Kunal Phalpher will be delivering a presentation entitled ‘Creating a secondary source for critical battery materials’ at E-Waste World Conference & Expo (synopsis below). The conference will take place from Thursday 14 November to Friday 15 November at the Kap Europa, Frankfurt Messe, Germany. To register for this highly focused, solutions-driven event, please click here. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please email peter@trans-globalevents.com

 

 

Li-ion batteries play an essential role in the global transition toward electrification, renewable energy and increased mobile communication. To meet this rapidly growing demand, the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations for critical and scarce battery-grade materials in these batteries. The world has, however, lacked a viable option for leveraging the rapidly growing volumes of spent Li-ion batteries as a source for these materials. Kunal will discuss the currently available processes, including Li-Cycle’s innovative and sustainable resource recovery process.

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