Fortum Battery Recycling has begun commercial operations at its hydrometallurgical battery material recycling facility in Harjavalta, Finland. The recently built facility is the first hydrometallurgical recycling commercial-scale facility in Europe and the largest recycling plant in Europe in terms of recycling capacity.
The new large-scale plant will significantly ease the rising demand for sustainable battery materials from European battery producers, assisting in lowering Europe’s reliance on imported crucial battery raw materials.
“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 the battery’s black mass can be recovered and returned to the cycle for the production of new lithium-ion battery chemicals.”
The recycling process used by Fortum creates secondary metals for brand-new lithium-ion batteries on an industrial scale while also recovering key metals from waste batteries and end-of-life lithium-ion batteries. The Fortum plant is already producing nickel and cobalt sulfate products.
The hydrometallurgical facility in Harjavalta is constructed to the highest environmental and human safety requirements, with a focus on recycling efficiency and minimal carbon emissions throughout the operation.
“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.
In order to achieve the highest recycling rates and provide a closed loop for battery recycling along the entire value chain in Europe, Fortum Battery Recycling’s operations cover all the necessary treatment and production steps: pre-treatment services in Kirchardt, Germany; mechanical process in Ikaalinen; and hydrometallurgical metal recovery in Harjavalta.
80% of a battery can be recycled using Fortum’s mechanical and hydrometallurgical techniques. Another cutting-edge hydrometallurgical method developed by Fortum Battery Recycling, which yields a nickel intermediate product, is being used to recover essential battery components from the metal industry’s side streams in Tornio.
“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. At Fortum Battery Recycling, we are already working on these industrial side streams,” says Holländer.
Battery consumption is increasing along with e-mobility, which in turn is driving up demand for essential raw materials. Recycling is a crucial component of the future to satisfy this need and promote decarbonization. Fortum Battery Recycling is constantly looking into expanding operations to other European regions to meet the sector’s demands.
Fortum is trying to cover all areas of a circular economy and helping with creating a sustainable future. It is leading by example in battery recycling, and will hopefully be able to expand its operations further.
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