Europe's largest battery recycling plant Hydrovolt starts operation

Europe's largest battery recycling plant Hydrovolt starts operation

Battery recycling joint venture Hydrovolt has started commercial operations, according to Northvolt, one of the two joint venture partners.

Hydrovolt, located in Fredrikstad, Norway, is Europe's largest electric car battery recycling facility, capable of processing just over 12,000 tonnes of end-of-life batteries per year (equivalent to around 25,000 EV batteries).

With its process design, Hydrovolt is said to be able to recover and isolate about 95 per cent of all raw materials in a battery. The plant features several novel concepts to maximise the recovery of the materials, including a dust collection system to ensure that valuable raw materials that would typically be lost in mechanical recycling steps are also captured.

Hydrovolt is also looking at significantly expanding its recycling capacity within Europe, with the long-term goal of being able to recycle around 70,000 tonnes of battery packs by 2025 and just over 300,000 tonnes by 2030, which equates to around 150,000 EV car batteries in 2025 and more than 500,000 in 2030.

"With the current ramp-up of electric mobility, there is a lack of recycling capacity to ensure a sustainable solution for the batteries as they reach the end of their life. Today, Hydrovolt is scaled to handle the entire volume of spent batteries in Norway. But we are already trying to expand to ensure we are prepared for the higher battery volumes we know are coming." - Peter Qvarfordt, CEO of Hydrovolt

"Batteries play a key role in the global transition to renewable energy," says Arvid Moss, Executive Vice President of Hydro, the second joint venture partner. "With Hydrovolt, we are laying the foundation for a sustainable and circular supply chain for batteries in Europe. Batteries that reach the end of life are given a new lease of life through the recovery of black mass and aluminium," Moss said. Aluminium can be recycled with only 5 per cent of the initial energy required to produce primary aluminium, making it a perfect material for the circular economy.

Recycling batteries can contribute massively to the sustainability of the battery industry and is also imperative for meeting the upcoming European regulations for batteries, including the upcoming mandatory recycling targets. In particular, the recovery of black mass - a powder containing metals such as nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium - will reduce the current reliance on mining as a source of primary raw materials and all the relative risks and vulnerabilities associated with it.

"Recycling end-of-life batteries is a cornerstone to ensuring that the transition to electric mobility is a real success from an environmental perspective," comments Emma Nehrenheim, Northvolt's Chief Environmental Officer. "The metals used in battery production are finite, but by replacing raw materials extracted from the earth with recycled materials, we can not only reduce the carbon footprint of batteries but also enable the sustainable long-term use of lithium-ion battery technology."

Processing black mass into battery-grade material requires hydrometallurgical treatment, such as that currently being set up at Northvolt's Revolt Ett recycling plant in Skellefteå, Sweden. By 2025, Hydrovolt is expected to produce more than 2000 tonnes of black mass annually.

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