Fortum expands battery recycling capacity in Finland

Circular economy

Finland Fortum has decided to extend its lithium-ion battery recycling capacity by constructing a new hydrometallurgical plant in Harjavalta, Finland.

The EUR 24 million investment will be a significant step toward improving Fortum’s hydrometallurgical recycling capability and enabling the development of sustainable battery chemicals. The new plant will be able to efficiently recover scarce metals from outdated lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, as well as recycle other waste fractions originating from the battery supply chain.

Lithium-ion batteries aiding the transition to sustainable energy

Lithium-ion batteries are critical to facilitating the transition to sustainable energy and the expansion of e-mobility. With the fast electrification of transportation and the shift toward renewable energy sources, the demand for lithium-ion batteries is predicted rise more than tenfold by 2030, greatly increasing the need for essential metals used in lithium-ion battery manufacture. Fortum’s new Harjavalta facility will help to fulfill the increased demand for recycled battery materials and enable the long-term recovery of lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese, all of which are required in the production of new electric vehicle batteries.

Fortum employs a combination of mechanical and low-CO2 hydrometallurgical methods to recycle batteries in the most environmentally friendly and low-carbon manner feasible. At Fortum’s plant in Ikaalinen, the lithium-ion batteries are first dismantled and processed mechanically. The black substance from the battery, which contains essential metals, is collected and transported to Harjavalta for hydrometallurgical processing.

New facility to start operation in 2023

In Harjavalta, Fortum is now operating an industrial-scale hydrometallurgical pilot plant. The new facility, which is planned to open in 2023, will significantly boost Fortum’s processing and recycling capacity. The new plant will allow Fortum to recycle the majority of the EV batteries that reach the end of their useful life in Europe.

Fortum’s hydrometallurgical battery recycling facilities were one of four Fortum projects shortlisted for the EU’s Innovation Fund for low-carbon technology in March. The four Fortum projects were chosen from a pool of 70 applicants for funding from the EU’s EUR 1 billion inaugural Innovation Fund. In addition, Fortum won IPCEI (Important Programme of Common European Interest) funds from Business Finland in connection with the EU Commission’s European Battery Innovation project. The grants were made in conjunction with the construction of Fortum’s mechanical recycling facility in Ikaalinen, Finland, and its hydrometallurgical recycling plant in Harjavalta, Finland.