Finland-based conglomerate Fortum says it will invest to expand its lithium-ion battery recycling capacity by building a new hydrometallurgical plant in Harjavalta, Finland.
The investment, estimated at about €24 million ($28.7 million) will increase Fortum’s hydrometallurgical recycling capacity and enable it to produce what it calls “sustainable battery chemicals.” The new facility will be able to recover lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese from old electric vehicle (EV) lithium-ion batteries while also recycling other materials back into the battery supply chain, says the firm.
“The new facility in Harjavalta will create approximately 30 jobs in the near future, but its impact will be felt throughout Europe as it will be the largest facility in the market of its kind once completed,” says Kalle Saarimaa, a vice president with Fortum Recycling & Waste.
“Our solid offering covers several key segments of the battery value chain, and we look forward to our collaboration with key players in those fields,” adds Saarimaa. “As the electrification of transportation gathers pace, the raw materials gap faced by the automotive industry is increasingly becoming a serious challenge. Our new facility will strongly support the existing Finnish and European battery manufacturing ecosystems, but it will also help the entire industry produce more sustainable batteries in Europe.”
Fortum says it uses a combination of mechanical and low-CO2 hydrometallurgical technologies to recycle the batteries with the lowest carbon footprint.
The lithium-ion batteries are first disassembled and treated during a mechanical process at Fortum’s plant in Ikaalinen, Finland. The battery’s black mass, containing the metals, is collected and then taken to Harjavalta for hydrometallurgical processing.
Fortum is currently operating an industrial-scale hydrometallurgical pilot plant in Harjavalta. The new facility to be built, which is expected to be operational in 2023, will enable Fortum to recycle the majority of EV batteries reaching their end-of-life in Europe, says the company.
In March, Fortum’s hydrometallurgical battery recycling operations were identified as one of four Fortum projects to be shortlisted for the EU’s Innovation Fund for low-carbon technologies. The four Fortum projects made it through to a shortlist of 70 candidates for financing from the EU’s €1 billion ($1.2 billion) first Innovation Fund.