Fortum, BAF, and Nornicket have signed a letter of intent to plan a recycling centre in Harjavalta, Finland to recover metals from electric car batteries. This would enable a successful “closed-loop” cycle to re-use the critical metals present in used batteries.
“The combination of battery materials production and recycling enables the circular economy by closing the loop,” said Tim Ingle, Vice President, Precious Metals Refining, Chemicals & Battery Recycling, at BASF.
He added, “To drive electrification, we are focussed on bringing solutions for high energy density cathode active materials and high-efficiency lithium extraction for battery recycling.”
Using metals extracted from recycled batteries to produce battery materials would reduce a significant amount of CO2 emissions while manufacturing electric vehicles. Additional CO2 reduction can be achieved by using electricity from renewable sources in Finland for the recycling process.
With the rise in the production of electric cars dramatically, using efficient methods to recover and reuse valuable elements in their batteries becomes imperative. In 2018, there was a growth of 63 per cent of electric cars to 5 million units across the world. Last year, the IEA projected that the growth would expand to 130 million units in 2030.
Fortum’s process, developed by the firm Crisolteq, extends the recovery rate of materials from lithium-ion batteries from 50% to over 80%. The process first separates plastics, aluminium and copper from the batteries. What leaves after that is known as “black mass” that consists of a mixture of lithium, manganese, cobalt, and nickel. Fortum says its process involves a chemical precipitation technique that allows it to recover the nickel and cobalt that most other recycling techniques are unable to recover.