Today's guest is Megan O'Connor, CEO and Co-Founder of Nth Cycle.
Nth Cycle uses a metals processing technology that allows battery manufacturers to convert lower-grade critical metals into EV-battery grade on-site. The company’s approach obviates large portions of cumbersome and dirty metal supply chains for crucial EV battery metals like nickel. Megan claims that Nth Cycle's technology can be applied to existing batteries just as it can be to newly mined ore, thus accelerating circularity for the lithium-ion battery and battery recycling.
One significant component of the Inflation Reduction Act is the formalization of US EV tax credits, and a qualification requirement that automakers must source at least 40% of their EV battery components - by value - in the United States or countries with which the US has a free trade agreement starting this year, with escalation to 100% by 2029.
With this change in the backdrop, Megan and Cody have a great conversation about the state of EV battery metal supply chains and battery recycling today, how Megan started working on this problem in the first place, how Nth Cycle works, and what her plans are for the company. We have focused quite a bit recently on EV batteries and the underlying metals that power them on the podcast. If you want to learn more about the topic, check out past episodes with Simon Moores, Jigar Shah and Ajay Kochhar, and Impossible Metals. Enjoy the show!
In this episode, we cover:
[2:18] How a molecule of metal turns into a battery
[7:18] The embodied carbon in electric vehicles
[10:03] Different refining mechanisms, their limitations, and environmental justice concerns
[17:55] The origin of Nth Cycle
[23:21] How Megan gained the confidence to change her Ph.D. and focus on battery metals
[27:23] Megan's entrepreneurial journey as a grad student
[29:36] An overview of Nth Cycle's solution
[33:12] A description of the company's system
[35:20] How the Inflation Reduction Act is changing the supply chain for nickel and where Nth Cycle fits in
[37:35] How the technology can be applied to all critical metals
[41:56] The company's capital history
[43:40] Job opportunities with Nth Cycle
[46:14] Megan's predictions for the future
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Episode recorded on January 23, 2023.