Hydrovolt, Europe’s largest electric vehicle battery recycling plant begins operations

Hydro battery recycling joint venture Hydrovolt (born from the collaboration between Hydro and Northvolt) has commenced commercial recycling operations in Fredrikstad, southern Norway.

Hydrovolt is Europe’s largest electric vehicle battery recycling plant, capable of processing approximately 12,000 tons of battery packs per year (around 25,000 EV batteries).

With the plant now online, a sustainable solution for handling Norway’s entire volume of electric vehicle batteries being retired from the market, or reaching end-of-life, is now available.

Integrated with a novel process design, Hydrovolt can recover and isolate some 95% of the materials in a battery including, plastics, copper, aluminium and black mass (a compound containing nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium).

Several novel concepts designed to maximise 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.

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

Peter Qvarfordt, CEO of Hydrovolt, comments: “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. 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.”

Arvid Moss, Executive Vice President in Hydro, comments: “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.”

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.

Significantly, the recovery of black mass – a powder containing metals of nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium – will reduce today’s dependence on mining as a source for primary raw materials, and all the relative risks and vulnerabilities associated with it.

Emma Nehrenheim, Chief Environmental Officer of Northvolt, comments: “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.”

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 tonnes of black mass annually.

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