Northvolt produces battery with recycled nickel, manganese, cobalt

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Swedish battery agency Northvolt mentioned Friday it had produced its first battery cell with what it described as “100% recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt.”

In an announcement, the Stockholm-headquartered firm — which has attracted investment from Goldman Sachs and Volkswagen, amongst others — mentioned the lithium-ion battery cell was manufactured by its recycling program, Revolt.

The cell’s nickel-manganese-cobalt cathode had been produced utilizing metals “recovered by means of the recycling of battery waste.” Exams confirmed that efficiency was on a par with cells made utilizing metals that had been freshly mined, Northvolt mentioned.

On Friday, the enterprise mentioned the design of its personal recycling facility could be expanded so it might recycle 125,000 tons of batteries yearly.

Building of the plant, known as Revolt Ett, is slated to start within the first quarter of 2022, with operations beginning in 2023.

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It’s going to use supplies from end-of-life EV batteries in addition to scrap from Northvolt Ett, the corporate’s gigafactory, the place the primary battery is anticipated to be produced earlier than the tip of 2021. Each amenities might be positioned in Skellefteå, northern Sweden.

In accordance with the corporate, the Revolt plant will be capable of recycle supplies together with lithium, cobalt, manganese and nickel, supplying the gigafactory within the course of.

As well as, plastics, copper and aluminum may also be recovered and “recirculated again into manufacturing flows by means of native third-parties.”

In a cellphone interview with CNBC, Emma Nehrenheim, Northvolt’s chief environmental officer, mentioned: “Theoretically, you may, by definition, recycle any metallic that you’ve got in a battery and make a brand new battery out of it.”

“As a elementary technique, because of this when the market of EVs is mature — so, on the level the place [an] equal quantity of automobiles would enter the road as the quantity of automobiles needing to be scrapped or despatched off for recycling — you may truly, in concept, have a really, very excessive recycling price … of batteries.”

“And because of this you wouldn’t be topic to a really liquid uncooked materials market and you’d additionally shield your self from very excessive footprints,” Nehrenheim, who can also be head of Revolt, mentioned.

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Northvolt’s plans come at a time when the shift to electrical automobiles is starting to achieve momentum.

This week, signatories to a declaration on the COP26 local weather change summit mentioned they’d “work in the direction of all gross sales of latest automobiles and vans being zero emission globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in main markets.”

Whereas the U.S., China and carmakers together with Volkswagen and Toyota have been absent from the declaration, signatories did embrace the U.Okay., Mexican and Canadian governments and main automotive companies corresponding to Ford, General Motors and Volvo Cars.

As world provide chains face critical strain on account of a large number of things, the notion of recycling supplies and creating a round financial system is beginning to grow to be a sexy proposition to some companies, together with these within the electrical car sector.

In March of this yr, Lucien Mathieu, from the Brussels-based marketing campaign group Transport & Atmosphere, sought to focus on the potential of recycling within the EV trade.  

In an announcement on T&E’s web site, he mentioned: “In contrast to immediately’s fossil gasoline powered automobiles, electrical automobile batteries are a part of a round financial system loop the place battery supplies will be reused and recovered to supply extra batteries.”

The recycling of battery supplies, Mathieu argued, was essential when it got here to decreasing “the strain on main demand for virgin supplies” and limiting “the impacts uncooked materials extraction can have on the atmosphere and on communities.”

‘Far more native’

Northvolt’s Nehrenheim was requested about how vital she felt concepts about recycling and a round financial system could be going ahead.

“I feel that is going to be the important thing driver for any new trade,” she mentioned. “There might be no disruptive expertise that may stay with out this and I feel that in the long term … recycled supplies in any trade will out compete some other.”

“Long run, it should be rather more worthwhile as soon as the processes are established to simply use a product to supply a brand new product,” she went on to state.

“You are decreasing dependence … on the uncooked materials market, you could have a way more sustainable supply … it is rather more native.”

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