Northvolt & EMR open first recycling plant in Hamburg
Today, Northvolt and British recycling firm EMR opened a recycling facility in Hamburg, Germany. The plant will play a crucial role in Northvolt’s recycling strategy, and the partners expect to process 10,000 tonnes of battery packs per year.
Such developments were part of Northvolt’s business model from the start. The Swedish company announced the Revolt program in 2019. Its Labs in Västerås started looking into recycling NMC and NCA chemicals shortly after, and Northvolt produced its first battery cell with 100 per cent recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt in 2021.
The company has since announced plans to scale up its recycling facilities in Sweden to recycle 125,000 tons of batteries annually. This will happen at a full-scale factory called Revolt Ett due to its proximity to Northvolt’s main battery cell gigafactory Ett in Skellefteå, North Sweden.
Back in Hamburg, the 12,000 square metre recycling facility in Halskestraße in Hamburg Billbrook is operated and equipped by EMR. Northvolt was responsible for planning operations and integrated specially developed battery unloading and dismantling solutions.
This is also what will happen there – discharging and dismantling battery packs, complex traction batteries from electric cars in this case. Still, this is only the first step in battery recycling, and EMR looks at over 70 years of experience in the metal recycling industry.
For the traction batteries at hand, EMR says it will “gently remove” the high-grade copper and aluminium so that the material can be reused. The raw materials are needed to manufacture battery housing for electric cars, not the cells.
To recover these, the remaining battery modules recovered from the packs will go to Northvolt’s recycling facilities and be crushed to recover plastics, aluminium and copper. The remaining material, known as black matter, is processed at Revolt Ett using the company’s Hydromet technology to recover actual battery materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt.
These will then flow into Northvolt’s cathode materials, supporting said on-site battery production. Revolt Ett will process enough black matter a year at total capacity to meet about half of the raw material demands at the main Ett factory in Skelleftea.
Commenting on the development today, the partners stressed that the material they recycle created an “entirely new way of sourcing the minerals needed for battery production” that is more economical and ecologically beneficial than raw material extraction through mining.
The First Mayor of Hamburg attended the opening of the city’s first recycling plant.
At the same time, Northvolt is establishing a battery factory near Heide, also in Northern Germany, and expects the first batteries to roll off the lines in 2026, as reported.
For now, though, the Hamburg facility will deliver materials to Sweden.
Emma Nehrenheim, Northvolt’s Chief Environmental Officer, said, “With the Hamburg facility, we are ready to recycle large volumes of European batteries and further our progress in establishing a circular battery industry.” She added that EMR was a “world-leading metal recycler and an excellent partner” for the company.
Northvolt reportedly plans to produce cells with 50% recycled material by 2030 across all operations, with Revolt Ett becoming the largest battery recycling plant in Europe and the only large-scale European facility capable of recycling lithium in addition to nickel, manganese, cobalt, and other metals.
“We should be mindful that some 250,000 tons of batteries will reach their end-of-life in Europe by 2030,” commented Nehrenheim. She added that they would see this as “an opportunity”.
Established in 2016 by former Tesla manager Peter Carlsson, Northvolt currently counts Volkswagen, Volvo Cars, BMW, Fluence, Scania, or Polestar among its key customers, with orders exceeding 55 billion dollars.
This week, the company reportedly raised an additional $1.2 bn in capital to finance its expansion in Europe and North America. The latest capital increase sets Northvolt’s debt and equity at more than nine billion dollars.