Northvolt says it produced the first battery cell cathode made of recycled battery waste and plans to build a new recycling plant to produce cells made of 50% recycling materials by 2030. (Image Credit: Northvolt)
Northvolt, a Swedish battery startup founded by two ex-Tesla executives, announced it developed the first battery cell with a cathode made from 100% recycled nickel, manganese, and cobalt. The startup received funds from several companies, such as Volkswagen, to construct a huge battery factory in Sweden. Also, Volkswagen’s investment provided the option to form a 5-/50 joint venture with Northvolt to construct another battery factory, serving as a supplier for the automaker.
Northvolt is becoming a crucial long-term battery supply partner for Volkswagen. This long term-supply helps with Volkswagen’s switch to electric vehicle manufacturing. Earlier this year, the automaker ordered $14 billion worth of batteries from Northvolt.
It aims to become a key player in battery cell manufacturing in Europe, with hopes to involve itself throughout the supply chain. Recycling batteries hold a significant part in the future’s supply chain, with Northvolt claiming to have already progressed toward that idea.
Now, Northvolt announced it created a battery cell with its cathode made from nickel, manganese, and cobalt, produced from battery waste recycled metals. “What we have shown here is a clear pathway to closing the loop on batteries and that there exists a sustainable, environmentally-preferable alternative to conventional mining in order to source raw materials for battery production. The recycling process can recover up to 95% of the metals in a battery to a level of purity on par with fresh virgin material. What we need now is to scale-up recycling capacities in anticipation of future volumes of batteries requiring recycling,” said Emma Nehrenheim, Northvolt’s Chief Environmental Officer.
The company plans on increasing recycling efforts to develop cells made of 50% recycling materials by 2030. To accomplish this, Northvolt is constructing a new recycling facility next to its Northvolt gigafactory in Sklleftea, Sweden. Overall, the goal is for the plant to recycle 125,000 tons of batteries each year, which could be used to produce 30 GWh of battery cells every year.
“As the electric vehicle revolution gains speed, we should be mindful that some 250,000 tons of batteries will reach their end-of-life in Europe by 2030. In this, some see challenges and obstacles. At Northvolt, we see opportunity. Similar to how we’ve found novel, sustainable solutions for the handling of salt byproducts at Northvolt Ett – treating it as a valuable product and not waste – the same is true with end-of-life batteries. Ultimately, a commitment to circularity will not only significantly reduce the environmental impacts of the battery industry but also contribute to our vision to set a new benchmark for sustainability in manufacturing,” said Nehrenheim.
I suspect that a major part of our technological future will be in mining the spent resources of the past. Glad some are trying to save.