Norsk Hydro, Northvolt enter battery recycling JV

Aluminium producer Norsk Hydro and battery cell maker Northvolt have formed a joint venture to harness recycling synergies between their two industries, Northvolt said.

The Hydro Volt venture aims to leverage the Norwegian market for electric vehicles to secure a sustainable feed of battery materials.

Northvolt, based in the Swedish city of Stockholm, said the joint recycling hub is slated to start operations in Fredrikstad, Norway in 2021.

The launch of the joint venture follows an investment in Northvolt by Norsk Hydro in 2019 based around advancing circular industry technologies and material flows.

“Northvolt has set a target for 50% of our raw materials in 2030 coming from recycled batteries,” Emma Nehrenheim, Northvolt’s chief environmental officer responsible for the group’s recycling unit, Revolt, said.

“The partnership with Hydro is an important piece of the puzzle to secure an external feed of material before our own batteries begin returning back to us,” she added.

Next year, Revolt will establish its first pilot recycling plant in Västerås, Sweden, and then a full-scale recycling plant at the company’s Ett gigafactory for lithium-ion batteries in Skellefteå, Sweden by 2022.

The recycling hub, which will be highly automated and designed for crushing and sorting batteries, will process more than 8,000 tonnes of batteries in the early stages of the launch with capacity being expanded over time.

Material output from the recycling processes in Fredrikstad will include so-called black mass and aluminium, which will be transported to Northvolt’s and Hydro’s recycling plants respectively.

The partnership between Hydro and Northvolt is an example of the emerging potential for synergies between different industries as the European economy becomes more circular and decarbonized.

“Hydro Volt can handle aluminium from end-of-life batteries as part of our total metal value chain, contribute to the circular economy and at the same time lessen the climate footprint of the metal we supply,” Norsk Hydro executive vice president for energy and corporate development Arvid Moss said.

The use of lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles has driven expectations for increased demand and has started to put pressure on the supply chain.

China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate spot market showed no significant improvement this week with many market participants still reporting weak trading activity.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 41,000-44,000 yuan ($5,730-6,149) per tonne on Thursday May 28, unchanged from the previous week.

Prices for battery-grade lithium compounds in Europe and the United States meanwhile remained steady in a quiet market that is tracking the trend in the more liquid Chinese and seaborne Asia markets.

Fastmarkets assessed the price of lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US at $8.90-9.60 per kg on Thursday, steady at the current level for six consecutive weeks.

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