Swedish firm Northvolt has announced the production of its first lithium-ion battery cell featuring a nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cathode made entirely with metals recovered from battery waste.
Recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt metals used in the battery cell were recovered through a low-energy hydrometallurgical treatment that involves the use of an aqueous solution to isolate the metals and separate them from impurities.
Northvolt claim the process can recover up to 95% of the metals in a battery to a level of purity and performance on par with virgin material.
All recycling and production processes were completed on a single site, at Northvolt Labs in Västerås, Sweden.
Having demonstrated the capabilities of recycled materials, Northvolt is now turning its attention to scaling-up of recycling capacities to fulfil its aim of producing cells with 50% recycled material by 2030.
To secure this, Revolt Ett, the company’s first giga-scale recycling plant in development adjacent to the Northvolt Ett gigafactory in Skellefteå, Sweden, will be expanded beyond its initial design to enable recycling of 125,000 tons of batteries per year.
Recovered NMC and lithium materials will supply the neighbouring gigafactory with recycled metals sufficient for 30GWh of battery production per year (half of Northvolt Ett’s total annual cell output).
Northvolt also intends to recover copper, aluminium and plastics from the batteries it recycles to recirculate into manufacturing flows through local third parties.
Construction of the recycling plant is due to start in Q1 next year and operations begin in 2023 with incoming materials from two sources: end-of-life batteries from electric vehicles and production scrap from the gigafactory.
To date, Northvolt has secured more than $27 billion in contracts from customers (including BMW, Fluence, Scania, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars and Polestar) to support its plan, which includes establishing recycling capabilities to enable 50% of all its raw material requirements to be sourced from recycled batteries by 2030.