Hydrovolt, a giant battery recycling joint venture between Swedish lithium-ion battery firm Northvolt and Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro, has started commercial recycling operations at its plant in Fredrikstad, Norway.
Hydrovolt is Europe’s largest electric vehicle battery recycling plant, with capacity to process 12,000 tonnes of battery packs on annual basis, corresponding to around 25,000 EV batteries.
Significantly, the recovery of black mass – a powder containing metals of nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium – will reduce dependence on mining as a source for primary raw materials, and all the relative risks associated with it.
Processing black mass into battery-grade material requires a hydrometallurgical treatment like that 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.
Hydrovolt is now exploring an expansion of recycling capacity within Europe, with a long-term target to recycle 70,000 tons of battery packs by 2025 and 300,000 tons of battery packs by 2030.
Aluminium recovered through Hydrovolt will be delivered to Norsk Hydro for recirculation into commercial grade aluminium products.
Northvolt has to date secured more than $50 billion worth of contracts from key customers including BMW, Fluence, Scania, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars and Polestar, to support its plans.
Hydrovolt CEO Peter Qvarfordt said: “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.
“Today, 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.”
Norsk Hydro executive vice president Arvid Moss said: “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.”
Northvolt chief environmental officer Emma Nehrenheim said: “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.”