Fortum, a European energy company, has developed a new and efficient way to recycle lithium from rechargeable batteries, which could help meet the upcoming surge in demand for electric cars and battery materials.
The world will increasingly need sustainable raw materials for EV batteries as the electrification of cars rapidly increases the need for the valuable materials and chemical elements batteries contain, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese. Lithium is one of the most valuable components in lithium-Ion batteries. However, there has been difficulty in recovering lithium and making it available quickly enough to meet the rising demand for batteries to power the huge drive towards electric vehicles. For further information see the IDTechEx report on Li-ion Battery Recycling: 2020-2040.
Finnish-based Fortum has now patented a breakthrough technology for a new recovery method to reduce the environmental impact of recycling lithium and make it possible for EV car producers and battery manufacturers to make a smoother and more sustainable transition to electrically powered vehicles. The company also hopes environmentally concerned consumers will factor in the importance of vehicle batteries containing sustainable lithium when it comes to buying electric vehicles and cars.
"This is a major development which will help meet and drive the massive demand for electric cars," says Tero Holländer, Fortum Head of Business Line, Batteries. "With our new patented technology, we are able to recover Lithium from EV batteries in a more sustainable way, but we will also have the capabilities to produce battery grade material on an industrial scale."
Extensive discussions are ongoing worldwide among governments on the future of electric vehicles and the need to replace cars running on fossil fuels. Fortum's game-changing news comes immediately after the UK government announced ambitious plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2030 to jump start the sale of electric cars.
"The reclamation of lithium and other elements from recycled sources supplements the mining of scarce metals, improving the sustainability aspects of EV production and lowering the CO2 footprint of batteries produced," adds Holländer. "Our new technology means we are sure to position Europe and especially Finland as one of the most competitive and sustainable options for battery material recycling and production in the world."
There are very few working, economically and sustainably viable technologies for recycling most of the materials in lithium-ion batteries, especially outside of the Asian continent.
In 2019, Fortum announced it had achieved a recycling rate of over 80% for lithium-Ion battery materials with a low-CO2 hydrometallurgical recycling process to recover cobalt, nickel and manganese. Fortum operates a hydrometallurgical recycling facility in Harjavalta, Finland, which is already able to operate on an industrial scale.
Tero Holländer, Head of Business Line Batteries, Fortum, +358 40 861 5071, firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Barrette, Communications & Marketing Manager, Fortum Recycling & Waste, +358 40 728 9477, email@example.com
Fortum is a European energy company with activities in more than 40 countries. We provide our customers with electricity, gas, heating and cooling as well as smart solutions to improve resource efficiency. We want to engage our customers and society to join the change for a cleaner world. Together with our subsidiary Uniper, we are the third largest producer of CO2-free electricity in Europe. With approximately 19,000 professionals and a combined balance sheet of approximately EUR 69 billion, we have the scale, competence and resources to grow and to drive the energy transition forward. Fortum's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki and Uniper's share on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. www.fortum.com