Battery manufacturer Northvolt has announced the production of the first lithium-ion battery cell made from 100% recycled nickel, manganese, and cobalt. According to Northvolt, the inputs for the battery were recovered from battery waste through a low-energy hydrometallurgical treatment that involves the use of an aqueous solution to isolate the metals and separate them from impurities.
Produced through their recycling programme, Revolt, Northvolt aims to expand its recycling plant capacity to enable the recycling of 125,000 tonnes of batteries per year, amounting to approximately 30GWh of battery production per year.
“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 to source raw materials for battery production,” Emma Nehrenheim, Northvolt’s chief environmental officer and head of Revolt, said in a media statement.
”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. What we need now is to scale-up recycling capacities in anticipation of future volumes of batteries requiring recycling.”
Now Northvolt has proven the validity and efficiency of its recycling process, it will turn its attention towards the scaling-up of recycling capacities, to fulfil its aim of producing cells with 50% recycled material by 2030.
To achieve this, Revolt Ett, the company’s first giga-scale recycling plant under development, will be expanded beyond its initial design to recycle 125,000 tons of batteries per year. As well as the direct delivery of nickel, manganese, cobalt, and lithium metals into Northvolt battery production processes, Revolt Ett will recover copper, aluminium, and plastics from the batteries and materials it recycles.
As electric vehicles gain a greater market share, more and more batteries will become available for recycling. Creating a circular supply chain that exploits the use of recycled battery metals is critical in reducing the pressure on directly mining minerals.
Projects such as Northvolt’s Revolt will, according to Nehrenheim, “significantly reduce the environmental impacts of the battery industry, but also contribute to our vision to set a new benchmark for sustainability in manufacturing”.