Hydro and Northvolt have announced the formation of a joint venture to enable recycling of battery materials and aluminium from electric vehicles.

Through Hydro Volt AS, the companies plan to build a pilot battery recycling plant, which will be the first of its kind in Norway.

Hydro Volt AS plans to establish the recycling facility in Fredrikstad, Norway, with expected production start in 2021. The 50/50 joint venture is established between the Norway-based global aluminium company Hydro and Northvolt, a leading European battery manufacturer based in Sweden.

“We are excited about the opportunities this represent. Hydro Volt AS can handle aluminium from end-of-life batteries as part of our total metal value chain, contribute to the circular economy and at the same time lessen the climate footprint from the metal we supply,” says Arvid Moss, Executive Vice President for Energy and Corporate Development in Hydro.

A formal investment decision in the recycling pilot plant is expected shortly, and the investment is estimated to around NOK 100 million on a 100% basis. Output from the planned, new battery recycling plant in Fredrikstad will include so-called black mass and aluminium, which will be transported to Northvolt’s and Hydro’s plants, respectively. Other products from the recycling process will be sold to scrap metal buyers and other off-takers.

Enabling urban mining
The pilot recycling facility will be highly automated and designed for crushing and sorting batteries. It will have capacity to process more than 8,000 tons of batteries per year, with an option of expanding capacity later.

In a second phase, the battery recycling facility could handle a considerable share of the commercial volumes from lithium-ion batteries in the electric vehicle fleet both in Norway and Scandinavia.

A typical EV battery pack may contain more than 25 percent aluminium, adding to about 70-100 kg aluminium per pack. The aluminium retrieved from the new plant will be sent to Hydro’s recycling operations, enabling more production of low-carbon Hydro CIRCAL products.

By establishing this facility in Norway, Hydro Volt AS can access and handle battery recycling directly in the most mature EV market in the world, while at the same time reducing the number of batteries being sent out of the country. The Norwegian company Batteriretur, located in Fredrikstad, will supply batteries to the recycling plant and is also planned as operator of the pilot plant.

Strategic fit
The launch of the battery recycling joint venture follows Hydro’s investment in Northvolt in 2019. It will further strengthen the partnership between the battery manufacturer and the aluminium company.

“Northvolt has set a target for 50 percent of our raw material in 2030 coming from recycled batteries. The partnership with Hydro is an important piece of the puzzle to secure an external feed of material before our own batteries reaching end-of-life and begin returning back to us,” says Emma Nehrenheim, Chief Environmental Officer responsible for the Revolt recycling business unit at Northvolt.

For Hydro, the partnership also represents an opportunity to ensure that aluminium from Hydro will be used in tomorrow’s batteries and battery system.

“We expect a considerable increase in the use of batteries going forward, with subsequent need for sustainable handling of used batteries. This represents a new step into an industry with considerable potential and will enhance recycling of materials. Hydro Volt adds to our portfolio of battery initiatives, which already include investments in both Northvolt and Corvus, where we can leverage our aluminium and recycling know-how,” says Moss.