EIT InnoEnergy invests in Northvolt’s ‘mission critical’ battery recycling plant

Source: press release, 13 December 2019

Northvolt’s future site in Skellefteå, Sweden
Northvolt’s future site in Skellefteå, Sweden (illustration: Northvolt)

InnoEnergy, Europe’s sustainable energy innovation engine, with the support of the EIT and the European Union, has announced its EUR 5.8 million investment into Northvolt’s “Revolt” programme. The programme, which will implement the latest discoveries in efficient materials recovery methods, will see the construction of a pilot battery recycling plant, followed by a full-scale version at Northvolt’s site in Skellefteå in 2022. EIT InnoEnergy’s investment supports Northvolt’s target of using 50% recycled materials in all its new battery cells by 2030.

The announcement comes just two days after the European Green New Deal highlighted the importance of circular economy initiatives to “mainstream” sustainability throughout European policy.

Speaking of the investment, EIT InnoEnergy CEO Diego Pavia says, “This is a landmark investment and one that has a mission critical role to play in addressing climate issues. Europe’s energy transition relies on creating a local, competitive and sustainable battery value supply chain that can support the electrification of the transport, power and industrial sectors. As battery volumes are expected to increase drastically, it will be doubly important that, as an industry, we do everything we can to reduce their manufacturing footprint.”

“As such, greener battery technologies are a cornerstone of a sustainable future, and we are actively seeking to invest in technologies that can unlock economic and environmental benefits. Better technologies mean we can manufacture much more with less, using recycled raw materials and less energy,” adds Pavia.

The aim of using 50% recycled materials by 2030 will be achieved through a gradual build-up in capacity. The pilot plant will process 100 tonnes a year, while the full-scale unit initially will look to recycle 25,000 tonnes of battery cells a year. At present, much of Europe’s recyclable battery materials are thought to be exported abroad for reuse in countries such as China and Korea.

Peter Carlsson, CEO Northvolt, says, “We are very pleased to have the continued support of EIT InnoEnergy as we take this next step in developing our blueprint for sustainable battery manufacturing. Our partnership with EIT InnoEnergy has been vital in getting us to where we are today; not only has it provided investments, it has opened doors for us across Europe.”

Northvolt’s programme builds on 2 years of research where, in conjunction with researchers at Chalmers University, Sweden, it has optimised the process design for hydrometallurgical treatment. The process allows for more efficient recovery of valuable metals including lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt.

This latest investment brings EIT InnoEnergy’s total capital contributions to Northvolt to EUR 9.3 million, following an earlier investment of EUR 3.5 million 3 years ago. Both investments help EIT InnoEnergy unlock the estimated EUR 250 billion annual European battery market, identified by the European Battery Alliance.

Northvolt is just one of several battery supply chain start-ups EIT InnoEnergy supports, and it has resources to support more. Earlier this autumn. Following strong growth within the storage market, EIT InnoEnergy expects this call to attract a significant number of new storage innovations.