Fortum has made the investment decision to expand its lithium-ion battery recycling capacity by building a new state-of-the-art hydrometallurgical plant in Harjavalta, Finland. The investment, marked at ca. EUR 24 million, will be a major step in increasing Fortum’s hydrometallurgical recycling capacity and enabling the production of sustainable battery chemicals. The new facility will be able to efficiently recover scarce metals from old electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries while also recycling various waste fractions derived throughout the battery supply chain.
Lithium-ion batteries play a key role in enabling the transition to clean energy and the growth of e-mobility. With the rapid electrification of transportation and the move towards renewable energy sources, the demand for lithium-ion batteries is expected to grow more than ten-fold by 2030, significantly increasing the need for critical metals used in the production of lithium-ion batteries. Fortum’s new Harjavalta facility will help to meet the rising demand for recycled battery materials and enable the sustainable recovery of lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese, which are all essential in the manufacturing of new electric vehicle batteries.
“Fortum is investing in a greener future by further investing in its hydrometallurgical recycling facilities. The new facility in Harjavalta will create approximately thirty jobs in the near future, but its impact will be felt throughout Europe as it will be the largest facility in the market of its kind once completed,” says Kalle Saarimaa, Vice President, Fortum Recycling & Waste. “Our solid offering covers several key segments of the battery value chain and we look forward to our collaboration with key players in those fields. As the electrification of transportation gathers pace, the raw materials gap faced by the automotive industry is increasingly becoming a serious challenge. Our new facility will strongly support the existing Finnish and European battery manufacturing ecosystems, but it will also help the entire industry produce more sustainable batteries in Europe.”
Fortum uses a combination of mechanical and low-CO2 hydrometallurgical technologies to recycle the batteries as sustainably as possible and with the lowest carbon footprint. The lithium-ion batteries are first disassembled and treated during a mechanical process at Fortum’s plant in Ikaalinen. The battery’s black mass, containing critical metals, is collected and then taken to Harjavalta for hydrometallurgical processing.
Fortum is currently operating an industrial-scale hydrometallurgical pilot plant in Harjavalta. The new facility to be built, which is expected to be operating in 2023, will enable a significant increase in Fortum’s processing and recycling capacity. The new plant will enable Fortum to recycle the major part of the EV batteries reaching their end-of-life in Europe.”
In March, Fortum’s hydrometallurgical battery recycling operations were identified as one of four Fortum projects to be shortlisted for the EU’s Innovation Fund for low-carbon technologies. The four Fortum projects made it through to a shortlist of 70 candidates for financing from the EU’s EUR 1 billion first Innovation Fund. Fortum has also received IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest) grants from Business Finland in conjunction with the EU Commission’s European Battery Innovation project. The grants were given in conjunction with the development of Fortum’s mechanical recycling plant in Ikaalinen, Finland and the hydrometallurgical recycling plant in Harjavalta.