Fortum opens Europe’s largest closed-loop hydrometallurgical battery recycling facility
“The demand for recycled battery materials is set to increase dramatically over the next five to ten years as the green energy transition speeds up."
Fortum Battery Recycling has started commercial operations at its state-of-the-art hydrometallurgical battery material recycling facility in Harjavalta, Finland.
The newly established facility is the largest recycling plant in Europe in terms of recycling capacity, and it is also the first commercial-scale facility in Europe for hydrometallurgical recycling.
“With our new low CO2 hydrometallurgical plant in Harjavalta, we are able to sustainably produce the materials urgently needed for new EV lithium-ion and industrial-use batteries,” says Tero Holländer, Head of Business Line, Batteries, Fortum Battery Recycling. “Thanks to our cutting-edge hydrometallurgical technology, 95% of the valuable and critical metals from battery's black mass can be recovered and returned to the cycle for the production of new lithium-ion battery chemicals.”
Fortum’s recycling process recovers critical metals from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries as well as battery production waste and produces secondary metals for new lithium-ion batteries on an industrial scale. The plant is already producing nickel and cobalt sulphates and Fortum is proud to state that the products meet the customer specifications.
“The demand for recycled battery materials is set to increase dramatically over the next five to ten years as the green energy transition speeds up. At the same time, the new EU sustainable batteries regulation requires battery, electronics and automotive manufacturers to gradually increase the amount of recycled materials in batteries. The manufacturers need to prepare for the legislative changes now, as the first minimum levels of recovery for materials such as cobalt, nickel and lithium will come into force in 2026. Having invested in recycling technology and capacity at an early stage, we are set to meet this demand. We are proud to be the forerunners investing in sustainable solutions for the future,” says Holländer.
Fortum Battery Recycling’s operations cover all the necessary treatment and production steps to achieve the highest recycling rates and provide a closed loop for battery recycling along the entire value chain in Europe: pre-treatment services in Kirchardt, Germany and mechanical process in Ikaalinen, and hydrometallurgical metal recovery in Harjavalta. By combining Fortum’s mechanical and hydrometallurgical processes, 80% of a battery can be recycled. Fortum Battery Recycling is also working with industrial side-streams, recovering critical battery materials from metal industry’s side streams in Tornio, with another novel hydrometallurgical process that produces a nickel intermediate product.
“To reach the set EU policy targets, we can’t limit the source of the recycled content only to end-of-life batteries and battery manufacturing scrap, as this will simply not be enough for the need of the manufacturing industries. This is why we must harness all waste streams containing critical metals,” says Holländer.
Fortum Battery Recycling is continuously exploring possibilities to expand operations to other European regions. In March 2023, Fortum Battery Recycling started EV battery recycling operations in Kirchardt, Germany. With the facility in Germany, Fortum is able to offer its services for the collection and processing of end-of-life batteries and production scrap close to central European customers. The hub in Germany can pre-treat over 3,000 tonnes of batteries per year and is connected to the Harjavalta site where the hydrometallurgical process takes place.
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