The Swedish company Northvolt, managed by former Tesla manager Peter Carlsson, will dedicate itself not only to the planned mass production of battery cells but also to recycling them with the Revolt programme now presented.
As a first step, the company is planning a pilot plant at the Northvolt Labs site in Västerås, which is scheduled to go into operation as early as 2020. The aim is to achieve an initial recycling capacity of 100 tonnes per year for NMC and NCA chemicals.
In 2022, Northvolt plans to commission the first block of a large recycling plant in Skellefteå, the site of the Northvolt Ett battery cell factory. The aim is to recycle around 25,000 metric tons of battery cells a year here right from the start. Northvolt has set itself the target of recovering half of the material in new cells from recycling by 2030.
For Carlsson, it is clear that recycling is of crucial importance for sustainable lithium-ion batteries. “With this program, Northvolt will be able to recover valuable materials from cells and return them to manufacturing flows,” says the Northvolt CEO. “Recycling will reduce the need for mining raw materials, improve the security of supply and lower the environmental footprint of Northvolt cells by reducing mining-related emissions”.
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According to the company, it has developed methods for key cell recycling processes over the past two years. In the pilot plant, the necessary tools will now be designed to “move on to the next level”, from the laboratory to the real world. “What we learn at the pilot plant will be key to optimising the design, build and ultimately the operation of a much larger capacity recycling plant which will be established at Northvolt Ett,” says Emma Nehrenheim, Chief Environmental Officer.
The company says it won’t be short of material, despite its recycling capacity of 25,000 tons: According to Northvolt, around 75,000 tons of batteries will reach the end of their service life by 2019.
Only at the end of November did Carlsson announce its intention to significantly increase the planned production capacities. “Undoubtedly, our ambitions go far beyond 64 GWh,” Carlsson said. By 2030, the company is aiming for production capacities of around 150 GWh and a market share of 25 per cent in Europe.”
The 64 GWh correspond to the projects announced so far: Our own planned Northvolt Ett factory is to start in 2021 with a capacity of 32 GWh and be expanded to 40 GWh by 2024. The joint factory with Volkswagen in Salzgitter is to be opened at the end of 2023 with a production capacity of 16 GWh and expanded to 24 GWh at a later date.
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