The Swedish company Stena Recycling has announced that it will invest 250 million kronor (about 24.5 million euros) in a new battery recycling process. Among other things, the money will be used to build a new plant in Halmstad.
The ground-breaking ceremony in Halmstad (located between Gothenburg and Malmö) is planned for autumn, according to Stena Recycling. The company has not said exactly when the plant will be ready and go into operation or what the recycling capacity will be. The company only says that 95 per cent of a lithium-ion battery can be recycled with the process used.
With such a high recycling rate, it is likely to be a hydrometallurgical process. In this process, the individual raw materials are extracted from the crushed battery material with water and chemical alkalis. With so-called pyrometallurgical processes – in other words, melting down the battery – recycling rates of over 90 per cent are usually not possible.
According to Stena Recycling, the plans are a response to market demand. “We see a strong growth in the sale of electric vehicles where we need to meet our customers’ needs to dispose of spent batteries in a safe and environmentally sound way,” says Fredrik Pettersson, managing director of Stena Recycling Sweden. “This major investment is part of our strategy to be a leader in the collection and mechanical processing of lithium-ion batteries to establish a circular cycle for batteries.”
The batteries from electric vehicles will initially be collected through the company’s 90 sites in Sweden and later in other countries. Initial sorting is to be carried out at these sites. The bulk of the work will then take place at the new facility in Halmstad.
Through the cooperation with Johnson Matthey, the recycled material will be turned into refined material in a further process step, which can be used in new batteries. “It will be a great gain for the environment and for the life cycle of the batteries if we recover critical metals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt, which are in short supply worldwide,” says Pettersson.
Incidentally, the manager states that his goal is to become “one of the leading companies in Europe in battery recycling”. “There are plenty of major players looking to enter this market, but few have Stena Recycling’s capabilities based on our existing infrastructure, customer base, expertise and experience,” says the Stena Recycling boss.