SQM Ventures, the corporate venture arm of major South American lithium producer Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM), has invested $2.58 million in Altilium as part of a Series A funding round, the UK firm announced on Tuesday September 12.
The investment will help to scale up Altilium’s demonstration line in Devon, in southwestern England, which is currently the only facility producing battery-ready CAM from EV batteries in the UK, it said.
It will also aid the retrofitting of an Altilium-owned solvent extraction electrowinning (SX-EW) hydrometallurgical plant in Bulgaria. This is not currently in operation but from 2024 it will have capacity to recycle battery waste from more than 24,000 EVs per year.
Altilium’s technology allows it to extract the lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese from used lithium-ion batteries. It claims that this offers recovery of more than 95% of the critical metals in the battery and 80% of the battery value.
“This investment will allow us to accelerate our efforts to develop a closed-loop lithium-ion battery supply chain,” Kamran Mahdavi, Altilium’s chief executive officer, said. “[It] validates our vision that the lithium and critical minerals needed for EV batteries will come from recycling existing waste streams.”
Although the UK has a growing number of battery recyclers that produce black mass – defined as the remains of a battery pack after shredding and some processing – the country lacks local capacity to consume the resulting powder.
Altilium’s scale-up processing line at its battery recycling center in Devon is designed to provide the company with data to make decisions on how to operate its future plant on Teesside, northeastern England, which the company says will be the UK’s largest planned EV battery recycling facility.
That plant will have capacity to process scrap from more than 150,000 EVs per year, producing 30,000 tonnes per year of CAM. This will meet 20% of the expected demand in the UK and will be one of the largest projects in the UK and Europe, according to Altilium.
No date has been set for the start of the Teesside facility, but more units to process black mass into recycled battery raw materials are also set to emerge across Europe in the coming years.
Fortum Battery Recycling opened a facility in April 2023 in Harjavalta, Finland, with the firm saying at the time that it was the first commercial-scale plant in Europe for hydrometallurgical recycling of black mass.
In response to greater interest and activity in the black mass markets, Fastmarkets has launched three payable indicators for the cif South Korea market since May 2023.
Keep up to date with global market insights and predictions for the battery recycling market with the Fastmarkets NewGen Battery Recycling Outlook.