Hydrovolt, The Largest Battery Recycling Facility In Europe, Begins Operations

Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt and Norwegian aluminum supplier Hydro are partners in Hydrovolt, a joint venture which has constructed the largest battery recycling facility in Europe. Located in Fredrikstad in southern Norway, the Hydrovolt factory is now in commercial operation and expects to recycle 12,000 tons of depleted batteries a year initially, rising to 70,000 tons by 2025 and 300,000 tons by 2030. 12,000 tons is enough to handle all depleted batteries from electric vehicles on the road in Norway today.

The fully automated Hydrovolt batteries recycling process allows up to 95% of materials to be recovered from that have reached the end of their useful service life. The so-called black mass composed of the nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium inside the batteries will be supplied to Northvolt to support its goal of using 50% recycled material in battery production by 2030.

It will be further refined into battery grade material at the company’s Revolt Ett recycling plant in Skellefteå, Sweden. By 2025, Hydrovolt expects to produce over 2,000 tons of black mass annually. The aluminum recovered by Hydrovolt will be delivered to Hydro for inclusion into commercial grade aluminum products.

The Hydrovolt factory makes use of several novel concepts designed to maximize recovery of materials found within the plant, including a dust collection system which ensures that valuable material typically lost through mechanical recycling steps is captured.

Peter Qvarfordt, CEO of Hydrovolt, said in a press release, “Hydrovolt represents a milestone on Norway’s trailblazing journey towards widespread electric transportation. Norway has been leading the world in adoption of electric vehicles for some years, but what has been missing is recycling capacity to ensure a sustainable solution for those batteries as they reach end-of-life. Today, Hydrovolt is scaled to handle the entire volume of end-of-life batteries in Norway, but we’re now looking towards expanding to ensure we’re preparing for the higher flows of batteries we know are coming.”

Arvid Moss, executive vice president of Hydro, added, “Batteries play a key role in the world’s transition to renewable energy. Through Hydrovolt, we are laying the foundations for a sustainable and circular supply chain for batteries in Europe. Batteries reaching end-of-life will get a new life through the recovery of black mass and aluminum. Aluminum can be recycled with only 5% of the initial energy required to produce primary aluminum, which makes it a perfect material for a circular economy.”

The recycling of batteries will contribute directly to the sustainability of the battery industry and is necessary for fulfillment of emerging European regulations governing batteries, including forthcoming mandatory recycling targets. The recovery of the black mass will reduce dependence on mining as a source for primary raw materials, as well as the risks and vulnerabilities associated with it.

Emma Nehrenheim, chief environmental officer for Northvolt, had this to say. “Recycling end-of-life batteries is a cornerstone to ensuring the electric vehicle transition is a true success from an environmental perspective. The metals used in battery production are finite, but by substituting raw materials mined from the Earth with recycled materials we can not only cut the carbon footprint of batteries but enable the sustainable long-term use of lithium-ion battery technology.”

The Takeaway

Most experts agree that a circular economy — one which takes its waste products and turns them back into new products instead of throwing them in the ocean or burying them in landfills — is a critical component of creating a sustainable planet. Redwood Materials and Li-Cycle are leading the way in battery recycling in the US.

Electric vehicles are ideally suited to being part of a circular economy because nearly all of the material in EV batteries can be recycled to make new batteries that are as good as or better than the originals. Tell your EV hating friends to put that in their pipe and smoke it!



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