Hydrovolt, the EV battery recycling joint venture between Northvolt and Hydro (an aluminium company), on May 15 officially commenced commercial recycling operations at its plant in Fredrikstad, Norway.

The plant starts commercial operations less than two years after the announcement in mid-2020.

According to the press release, Hydrovolt's plant is currently Europe’s largest electric vehicle battery recycling plant with an annual capacity of 12,000 tons of battery packs, which is the equivalent of 25,000 electric car batteries. It's expected to be sufficient to recycle the entirety of the Norwegian end-of-life battery market.

Of course, Europe as a whole will have to build many more and even larger recycling plants. Hydrovolt alone is exploring an expansion of recycling capacity within Europe with a long-term target of:

  • 70,000 tons of battery packs (roughly 35,000 battery pack units) by 2025
  • 300,000 tons of battery packs (roughly 150,000 battery pack units) by 2030

Northvolt says that the fully automated recycling process is enabling up to 95% of materials to be recovered from batteries, including plastics, copper, aluminium and black mass (a compound containing nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium).

Aluminium (recycled with only 5% of the initial energy required to produce primary aluminium) will be delivered to Hydro for recirculation into commercial-grade aluminium products.

In the case of black mass powder, it will be sent to Northvolt’s Revolt Ett recycling plant in Skellefteå, Sweden for a hydrometallurgical treatment. The volume of black mass is expected to reach over 2,000 tonnes annually by 2025.

Revolt Ett was launched in 2021. Valuable cathode materials from Revolt Ett will be applied in new battery cell production at the Northvolt Ett in Skellefteå, Sweden to support Northvolt’s goal of using 50% recycled material in battery production by 2030.

Peter Qvarfordt, CEO of Hydrovolt, comments:

“Hydrovolt represents a milestone on Norway’s trailblazing journey towards widespread electric transportation. Norway has been leading the world in adoption of electric vehicles for some years, but what has been missing is recycling capacity to ensure a sustainable solution for those batteries as they reach end-of-life. Today, Hydrovolt is scaled to handle the entire volume of end-of-life batteries in Norway, but we’re now looking towards expanding to ensure we’re prepared for the higher flows of batteries we know are coming.”