Enhancing Domestic Supply Chains and Recycling Critical Battery Materials 

Enhancing Domestic Supply Chains and Recycling Critical Battery Materials with Cirba Solutions

Interview with CIEX NA 2024 speaker -David Klanecky, CEO, Cirba Solutions


CIEX: Without giving too much away – what is the core message of your talk and what would you like delegates to remember?

David Klanecky CEO Cirba Solutions

David Klanecky
Cirba Solutions

David: During my session at this year’s CIEX NA, I want attendees to understand the critical need for enhancing our domestic supply chain, ultimately becoming less reliant on foreign entities for critical materials and ensuring we work toward something that is sustainable for all parties in the supply chain.

To do this effectively, we need to shift the paradigm on how we source raw materials domestically and create a closed-loop approach supply of critical battery materials. By sourcing domestically, and specifically recycling and reusing, we can have a significant impact on cost and reduce the carbon footprint. 

The demand for critical, battery-grade materials is rapidly outpacing supply, especially due to the rapid growth of electric vehicles. With EV adoption projections over the next 10 years, recycling is a crucial component to meeting the supply and demand. These materials can be used over and over again, they are infinitely recyclable. And that is where recycling comes in. The largest mine we have today is on our own roads and in our homes – in our junk drawers, the tools in our garage, and even our electric/hybrid cars. 


CIEX: What motivates you to join CIEX this year?

David: As chemical engineers and business leaders, we must play an active role in the evolving multitude of transformational changes we are undergoing in society today, including electrification of how we move goods and the creation of sustainable supply chains. These are difficult problems to solve and cannot be accomplished in a vacuum. By joining CIEX this year, those of us in the chemical manufacturing fields can collaborate and share ideas to help in providing solutions for these societal issues. 


CIEX: With deglobalization, circularity and the energy transition as key trends currently shaping the chemical industry, what are the challenges to overcome and opportunities to harness?

David: Today, North America produces the 3rd largest volume of end-of-life batteries in the world, and only about 5% are recycled. Batteries that are not recycled often end up in landfills or are shipped to other countries. This improper disposal poses a serious threat to the environment. Landfilled batteries can leak toxic chemicals, polluting our soil and water sources. Additionally, they can cause thermal events.

Approximately 95% of the critical minerals in an end-of-life battery can be extracted and repurposed. These recovered materials can be reused in the production of new batteries, reducing reliance on virgin resources.

If they are shipped to another country, then we lose the opportunity to recover and reuse them, rendering our supply chains vulnerable.

Even as the recycling industry heats up, we are playing a game of catch-up. As new battery chemistry and pack/module designs emerge, recyclers must adapt by the time those cars reach their end-of-life, which could be 8-10 years down the line. Recyclers need to stay ahead of the innovation curve and build foundational recycling processes that can easily adapt to and integrate with the evolving needs of the market and partners. This ensures efficient, sustainable resource recovery that ultimately benefits American consumers. 


CIEX: What is one project or initiative in the industry, outside of your own company and associations that really inspired you recently, and why? 

David:  Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which is a requirement that some states are adopting to ensure that more batteries are recycled at their end of life. It ensures that there is a longer-term outcome required for each battery (at end-of-life), and companies like Cirba Solutions can become the ‘preferred’ battery recycler to ensure these batteries are recycled and the critical materials are recovered. 


CIEX: If the future of the chemical industry is high-tech, low carbon – what are 3 essential elements needed today, to realize this?

David: Sourcing Domestically: It is estimated that in some cases, critical battery metals for cathode active materials travel over 50,000 miles before they reach a lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility. If we change our approach to how we source critical materials, we can reduce nearly 96% of logistical movement and the CO2 associated with it by sourcing critical minerals domestically. 

Recycled content in EVs: By using premium upgraded recycled metals, we will make an additional impact on CO2 emissions. With recycled materials, we see:

  • A 40% reduction of CO2 per ton of Lithium produced when using recycled materials compared to mining.
  • 10% reduction of CO2 per ton of Nickel produced when using recycled materials compared to mining.
  • 8% reduction of CO2 per ton of Cobalt produced when using recycled materials compared to mining

Continued legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act: With legislation, we can promote the development of a domestic, circular battery supply chain, which will be critical in pushing forward EV and battery manufacturing growth.

  • Initiatives like this which aim to address climate challenges by providing tax credits and grants are a critical component in pushing forward a transition and securing our domestic lithium supply chain.
  • This is significant because responsible and sustainable domestic sourcing and processing of the critical materials used to make lithium-ion batteries will strengthen American supply chains, accelerate battery production to meet increased demand and secure the nation’s economic competitiveness, energy independence, and national security.


CIEX: Thank you so much, David! We look forward to hearing more from you at CIEX 2024!

The 10th Annual Chemical Innovation Exchange Summit (CIEX) is created for C-level R&DInnovation and Sustainability experts from the consumer, industrial and speciality chemical sectors.  This intimate event is about creating value – bringing the right people together, creating synergies, and actively connecting with potential partners. CIEX will take place in Indianapolis on October 23-24.  Companies presenting include: Dow, Ashland, Cargill, Huntsman, Monument Chemical, Evonik, Celanese, US DOE, BASF, ACS, AdvanSix, The Heritage Group, and many more.

Secure your spot at the CIEX Summit and register today!

CIEX NA 2024