More than 80% recycling rate for lithium-ion cells

Lithium-ion batteries are more complex and difficult to recycle than the lead-acid, which are almost entirely recyclable, but there are new ways to increase the recycling rate.

According to Fortum, recycling rate could increase from the usual 50% to more than 80% using new hydrometallurgical technology, developed by Finnish company Crisolteq.

"A new solution by Nordic clean energy company Fortum makes over 80% of the electric vehicle (EV) battery recyclable, returns the scarce metals back into circulation and resolves the sustainability gap by reducing the need to mine cobalt, nickel, and other scarce metals."

"Fortum achieves the recycling rate of over 80% with a low-CO2 hydrometallurgical recycling process. The current recycling rate for batteries is approximately 50%. The batteries are first made safe for mechanical treatment, with plastics, aluminium and copper separated and directed to their own recycling processes.

The hydrometallurgical recovery process allows cobalt, manganese and nickel and lithium to be recovered from the battery and delivered to battery manufacturers to be reused in producing new batteries. This technology was developed by Finnish growth company Crisolteq. Crisolteq has a hydrometallurgical recycling facility in Harjavalta, Finland, that is already able to operate on an industrial scale."

Recycling is not the only thing in which Fortum is engaged, as the company is also piloting battery "second-life" energy storage projects and builds a charging infrastructure network.

International Energy Agency expects that the global lithium-ion battery recycling market will increase from just €1.7 million to €20 billion ($22.6 billion) around 2030.

Kalle Saarimaa, Vice President, Fortum Recycling and Waste said:

"There are very few working, economically viable technologies for recycling the majority of materials in lithium-ion batteries. We saw a challenge that was not yet solved and developed a scalable recycling solution for all industries using batteries,” says Kalle Saarimaa, Vice President, Fortum Recycling and Waste.

"Circular economy in its strictest sense means recycling an element to its original function or purpose. When we discuss the recycling of lithium-ion batteries, the ultimate aim is for the majority of the battery’s components to be recycled to new batteries,"

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