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Fortum solves major EV sustainability issue - innovation boosts battery recycling rate to over 80%

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Electrification will rapidly increase the need for batteries. A new solution by Nordic clean energy company Fortum makes over 80% of the electric vehicle (EV) battery recyclable, returns the scarce metals back into circulation and resolves the sustainability gap by reducing the need to mine cobalt, nickel, and other scarce metals.

"There are very few working, economically viable technologies for recycling the majority of materials in lithium-ion batteries. We saw a challenge that was not yet solved and developed a scalable recycling solution for all industries using batteries,” says Kalle Saarimaa, Vice President, Fortum Recycling and Waste.

Fortum achieves the recycling rate of over 80% with a low-CO2 hydrometallurgical recycling process. The current recycling rate for batteries is approximately 50%. The batteries are first made safe for mechanical treatment, with plastics, aluminium and copper separated and directed to their own recycling processes.

The hydrometallurgical recovery process allows cobalt, manganese and nickel and lithium to be recovered from the battery and delivered to battery manufacturers to be reused in producing new batteries. This technology was developed by Finnish growth company Crisolteq. Crisolteq has a hydrometallurgical recycling facility in Harjavalta, Finland, that is already able to operate on an industrial scale. 

"Circular economy in its strictest sense means recycling an element to its original function or purpose. When we discuss the recycling of lithium-ion batteries, the ultimate aim is for the majority of the battery’s components to be recycled to new batteries," Saarimaa concludes.

Fortum is also piloting so-called "second-life" applications for batteries where the EV batteries are used in stationary energy storages after they are no longer fit for their original purpose.

According to a forecast by the International Energy Agency, the number of electric vehicles on the world’s roads will increase from 3 million to 125 million by 2030. In 2015 the global lithium-ion battery recycling market was worth about EUR 1.7 million, but it is expected to boom in the coming years to more than EUR 20 billion.

Join the change for a cleaner world

Achieving a true circular economy for batteries depends on synergistic partnerships with battery manufacturers, the car industry, recycling companies and start-ups. Fortum's invitation to "Join the change for a cleaner world" goes out to everyone committed to solving the sustainability challenges related to using, manufacturing and recycling batteries.

Fortum Corporation
Group Communications

Further information:
Kalle Saarimaa, Vice President, Fortum Recycling and Waste, +358 41 503 1337

Read more: www.fortum.com/batteryrecycling

Fortum is a leading clean-energy company that provides its customers with electricity, heating and cooling as well as smart solutions to improve resource efficiency. We want to engage our customers and society to join the change for a cleaner world. We employ some 8,000 professionals in the Nordic and Baltic countries, Russia, Poland and India. In 2018, our sales were EUR 5.2 billion and 57% of our electricity generation was CO2 free. Fortum's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki. www.fortum.com