Electric vehicle battery manufacturer Northvolt and metal recycler EMR have started joint operations at a battery recycling facility in Hamburg.
The site can process 10 000 tonnes of lithium car batteries per year providing ‘much-needed capacity to support the recycling of batteries in Europe,’ the companies declare.
Located in Hamburg’s Billbrook district, the facility was officially opened on 24 August by Hamburg’s mayor Peter Tschentscher. He said the plant will play a crucial role for the future of e-mobility in Germany. ‘Recycling saves raw materials, protects the environment and benefits the German automotive industry by reducing the need for importing raw materials. That’s the progress of a truly circular economy.’
The 12 000 m2 site features equipment enabling the discharge and dismantling of some 10 000 tonnes of electric vehicle battery packs per year. The layout and process flow of the facility was carried out by Northvolt.
Step one: dismantling
The discharge and dismantling of the battery packs is the first step in the battery recycling process. With more than 70 years of experience in the metal recycling industry, EMR will use its expertise to recover copper and aluminium from the battery frames. ‘The process will ensure this material can, once again, be used to manufacture sustainable technologies, such as the next generation of electrical vehicles’.
Black mass to north Sweden
The modules recovered from the battery packs will be delivered to Northvolt’s facilities for further recycling. There, the modules will be crushed to enable the recovery of plastics, aluminium and copper. The remaining material, known as black mass, will be processed at the Revolt Ett recycling plant in northern Sweden using Northvolt hydromet technology to recover battery-grade materials including more lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt.
These materials will be fed to Northvolt’s adjacent cathode active material production facilities, which in turn support on-site battery manufacturing. When fully operational, Revolt Ett can process 125 000 tonnes of black mass per year – said to be ‘enough to cover approximately half of Northvolt Ett’s raw material needs for cathode production’.
The Hamburg facility receives battery packs and modules from the European electric vehicle market, secured by Northvolt. Alongside end-of-life battery packs of varying designs, the facility is also equipped to receive and process battery packs that are recalled from the market.
‘EMR has been an excellent partner in this project,’ says Northvolt’s ceo Emma Nehrenheim. ‘The ability to effectively recycle batteries is crucial to making the electric vehicle revolution as sustainable as possible. With this new facility we are ready to receive volumes of European batteries for recycling and further our progress towards establishing a circular battery industry.’
EMR’s metals director Murat Bayram adds: ‘Sustainability, circularity and protecting the world’s precious resources is at the heart of how EMR does business, and this new site is clear proof of that.’