Boosting EV recycling rates up to 80%
Nordic clean energy company Fortum has addressed a critical challenge in the recycling of EV batteries. Their technical solutions could boost battery recycling rates to over 80%.
Currently there are very few working and economically viable technologies to recycle the majority of the materials used in lithium-ion batteries. Fortum’s new innovative technique, however, predicts it will boost battery recycling rates to over 80%, up from the current 50%.
The technique consists of a low CO2-hydrometallurgical recycling process in which plastics, aluminium and copper are separated and directed to their own recycling process before recycling the other raw materials.
This process allows the recovery of cobalt, lithium, manganese and nickel from the EV batteries. If they can be delivered back to battery manufacturers, they can be reused in the production of new batteries.
Besides increasing the recycling rate of the battery to 80% and with an ambitious aim to recycle almost all the elements of the battery in the future, Fortum is piloting second-life applications for batteries as well. By the end of their lifetime, EV batteries can be re-used as energy storage units, hence delaying the need to be recycled and optimising their entire lifetime.
Rising EVs, rising prices
The challenge of recycling becomes more prominent, since EVs are on the rise. Moreover, if the prediction of 100 million new EVs by 2030 becomes a fact, there will be an 800% increase in the demand for nickel and manganese and a 150% increase in the demand for cobalt.
Recycling these raw materials can lower the pressure on them, and thus the pressure on the price and on the mining countries. Moreover, using recycled materials will reduce carbon emissions from battery production by up to 90%.
Fortum’s goal is to bring the recycled materials back into circulation, resolving the sustainability gap, and addressing one of the main environmental and economic concerns around the rise of EVs.