Fortum expands its EV battery recycling operations with a new mechanical processing plant in Finland
In conjunction with the launch of Finland’s national battery strategy, Fortum announced in January 2021 the further expansion of its battery recycling operations. In February 2021, Fortum will open a new mechanical recycling processing plant located in Ikaalinen, Finland. The new plant, which is expected to employ up to 20 employees, will complement Fortum’s existing hydrometallurgical pilot facility in Harjavalta, Finland, which is already capable of operating on an industrial scale.
The world will increasingly need sustainable raw materials for EV batteries, as the electrification of cars is rapidly increasing the need for the valuable materials and chemical elements that batteries contain, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese. In addition, a recent EU directive proposal will also require improved collection targets, higher recovery rates and the increased use of recycled raw materials in new batteries.
Fortum, a leading European energy company, is committed to engage its customers and societies to decarbonise and to help them in decreasing their environmental footprints. Moving forward, CO2-neutral societies will rely on battery technology. Fortum has been developing new and increasingly efficient ways to optimise the entire lifecycle of lithium-ion batteries for several years now and aims to further expand its battery operations in the coming years. Partnering with industrial and infrastructure customers is one of Fortum’s strategic priorities.
“Our new plant in Ikaalinen will enable us to leverage our existing recycling operations in Finland and will give us the annual capacity to recycle approximately 3,000 tonnes of used batteries, corresponding to about 10,000 EV batteries,” says Tero Holländer, Head of Business Line Batteries at Fortum. “We aim to steadily increase this capacity in the coming months and years in order to bridge the raw materials gap faced by the automotive industry with the electrification of transportation. Providing recycled and sustainable raw materials for batteries will bring significant value not only to our partners and customers but also to Finland’s battery industry, which is well poised to take the lead in the supply chain for EV batteries.”
The global lithium-ion battery recycling market was worth about EUR 1.3 billion in 2019, but it is expected to boom in the coming years to more than EUR 20 billion. According to a forecast by the International Energy Agency, the number of electric vehicles on the world’s roads will increase from three million to 125 million by 2030.
Many current operators that recycle battery metals often do so by smelting, which results in lower material recovery rates and higher emissions. In order to recycle used lithium-ion batteries efficiently, safely and with the lowest possible CO2 footprint, Fortum has taken an approach that includes using both mechanical and hydrometallurgical methods for the recycling process; this approach can reach a recovery rate of up to 95% of the metals included in the valuable active materials of a battery’s black mass.
Fortum’s unique mechanical recycling process has been optimised to complement the hydrometallurgical process and has been designed to minimise emissions and dust. During the process, used EV batteries are shredded and the metals are separated to create a black mass. This black mass is then delivered to Fortum’s processing facility in Harjavalta where a hydrometallurgical process is applied to create new recycled raw materials that can be used in new battery products.
Read Fortum’s press release here.