Hydrovolt, a battery recycling joint venture between Hydro and Northvolt, has started commercial recycling operations at its plant in Fredrikstad, Norway. The new facility provides a sustainable solution for handling end-of-life electric vehicles (EVs).
“Hydrovolt represents a milestone on Norway’s trailblazing journey towards widespread electric transportation,” said Peter Qvarfordt, CEO of Hydrovolt. “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.”
The new recycling facility utilizes a fully automated process that enables up to 95% of materials to be recovered from batteries, including aluminum, copper, plastics, and black mass, a powder containing metals of nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium. Several novel concepts designed to maximize 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. The facility has the capacity to process 12,000 tonnes of battery packs on an annual basis, corresponding to around 25,000 EV batteries — making it Europe’s largest EV battery recycling plant.
The aluminum recovered by Hydrovolt will be delivered to Hydro for remelting into commercial grade aluminum products. The black mass materials will be supplied to Northvolt for further recycling.
“Batteries play a key role in the world’s transition to renewable energy,” said Arvid Moss, executive vice president of Hydro. “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 aluminum. Aluminum can be recycled with only 5% of the initial energy required to produce primary aluminum, which makes it a perfect material for a circular economy.”
The recycling of EV batteries will directly contribute to the sustainability of the battery industry. It will also be necessary for companies to meet emerging European regulations governing batteries, including forthcoming mandatory recycling targets. The recovery of black mass will reduce today’s dependence on mining as a source for primary raw materials, and the associated risks and vulnerabilities of these activities.
“Recycling end-of-life batteries is a cornerstone to ensuring the electric vehicle transition is a true success from an environmental perspective,” said Emma Nehrenheim, chief environmental officer of Northvolt. “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 li-ion battery technology.”
Hydrovolt is exploring an expansion of recycling capacity within Europe, with a long-term target to recycle 70,000 tonnes of battery packs by 2025 and 300,000 tonnes of battery packs by 2030. This would be equivalent to approximately 150,000 EV batteries in 2025 and 500,000 in 2030.