In a big breakthrough, Swedish battery producer Northvolt has produced battery cells using recycled nickel, manganese, and cobalt. The company’s recycling program “Revolt” is the first to produce an EV battery using 100% reused materials. Moreover, the tests showed that the electromechanical performance of these batteries is on-par with cells produced with freshly mined materials.
Emma Nehrenheim, head of the Revolt program, said, “What we have shown here is a clear pathway to closing the loop on batteries and that there exists a sustainable, environmentally-preferable alternative to conventional mining in order to source raw materials for battery production,”
“The recycling process can recover up to 95% of the metals in a battery to a level of purity on par with fresh virgin material,” she continues. “What we need now is to scale-up recycling capacities in anticipation of future volumes of batteries requiring recycling.”
All the procedures for the recovery and reuse of the metals took place at a single site, Northvolt Labs. The company recovered the metals from battery waste through a low-energy hydrometallurgical treatment. In this treatment, an aqueous solution is used to segregate the metals and separate them from impurities.
The company has plans to annually recycle 125,000 tons of batteries
Northolt’s construction plant, called Revolt Ett, is scheduled to begin in 2022, but its operations will start in 2023. The plant will use the materials from end-of-life EV batteries and production scrap from the main Northvolt Ett factory.
Emma said, “Theoretically, you can, by definition, recycle any metal that you have in a battery and make a new battery out of it.”
“As a fundamental strategy, this means that when the market of EVs is mature — so, at the point where [an] equal amount of cars would enter the street as the amount of cars needing to be scrapped or sent off for recycling — you can actually, in theory, have a very, very high recycling rate … of batteries.”