Northvolt produces first fully recycled battery cell

13 December 2021

Northvolt has produced its first battery cell with 100% recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt recovered through the recycling of battery waste by using a low-energy hydrometallurgical treatment which involves the use of an aqueous solution to isolate the metals and separate them from impurities. Following material validation, electrochemical performance testing of cells produced with recycled metals demonstrates performance on par with cells produced with freshly-mined metals.

Northvolt recycling program, Revolt, aims to expand its recycling plant capacity to enable recycling of 125,000 tons of batteries per year, amounting to approximately 30 GWh of battery production per year. The Northvolt Labs are situated in Västerås, Sweden. The battery manufacturer claims the technique is a breakthrough for the battery industry. Emma Nehrenheim, Northvolt’s Chief Environmental Officer and head of Revolt, commented: “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.”

Northvolt now turns attention to the scaling-up of recycling capacities to fulfil its aim of producing cells with 50% recycled material by 2030. With construction beginning in Q1 2022 and operations in 2023, the recycling plant will receive incoming material for recycling from two sources: end-of-life batteries from electric vehicles and production scrap from its own battery factory. According to Northvolt in addition to becoming Europe’s largest battery recycling plant, the new Revolt Ett will be the only large-scale facility in Europe capable of recycling lithium in addition to nickel, manganese, cobalt and other metals. Alongside direct delivery of nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium metals into Northvolt battery production processes, Revolt Ett will recover copper, aluminium and plastics from the batteries and materials it recycles – all of which will be recirculated back into manufacturing flows through local third-parties.