Start-up of Europe’s largest EV battery recycling plant

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Hydrovolt, a battery recycling JV between Northvolt and Hydro, has started commercial recycling operations at its plant in Fredrikstad, Norway.

Hydrovolt is Europe’s largest electric vehicle battery recycling plant, with capacity to process 12,000 tpy of battery packs, corresponding to around 25,000 EV batteries. With the plant in operation, a sustainable solution for handling Norway’s entire volume of electric vehicle batteries reaching end-of-life is now available.

The fully automated recycling process at Hydrovolt enables up to 95 % of battery metals to be recovered from batteries, including plastics, copper, aluminium and black mass, a powder containing metals of nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium, which will be supplied to Northvolt for further recycling. Aluminium recovered through Hydrovolt will be delivered to Hydro for recirculation into commercial grade aluminium products. Several novel concepts designed to maximize recovery of materials are found within the plant, including a dust collection system which ensures valuable material typically lost through mechanical recycling steps is captured.

Long-term recycling target is 500,000 battery packs in 2030

Hydrovolt is exploring an expansion of recycling capacity within Europe, with a long-term target to recycle 70,000 tpy of battery packs by 2025 and 300,000 tpy of battery packs by 2030, equivalent to around 150,000 EV batteries in 2025 and 500,000 in 2030.

“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 prepared for the higher flows of batteries we know are coming,” says Peter Qvarfordt, CEO of Hydrovolt.

“Batteries play a key role in the world’s transition to renewable energy”

“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 aluminium. Aluminium can be recycled with only 5 % of the initial energy required to produce primary aluminium, which makes it a perfect material for a circular economy,” adds Arvid Moss, executive vice president in Hydro.

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

“We can enable the sustainable long-term use of li-ion battery technology”

“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 li-ion battery technology,” says Emma Nehrenheim, chief environmental officer at Northvolt.

Processing black mass into battery-grade material requires a hydrometallurgical treatment such as is being established at Northvolt’s Revolt Ett recycling plant in Skellefteå, Sweden. By 2025, it is expected Hydrovolt will produce over 2,000 t of black mass annually from its facility in Fredrikstad.

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