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Supporting a circular economy for batteries

The UK’s first circular economy for electric vehicle batteries
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Supporting a circular economy for batteries_my green pod

Teesside University is supporting the development of the UK’s first circular economy for electric vehicle (EV) batteries in partnership with a leading clean technology firm.

The collaboration between the university and Altilium will support the design of a commercial-scale battery processing and black-mass production plant on Teesside, which will be capable of processing over 100,000 EV batteries per year once complete.

Black mass

Black mass is the term used to describe the material which results when a battery reaches the end of its life and is collected, discharged, dismantled and shredded.

The energy-efficient production of black mass is the first step in the battery recycling process.

Black mass contains high amounts of the key metals, lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese, which are used in the original manufacture of batteries.

Using its proprietary recycling technology, Altilium can recover over 95% of these battery metals to produce battery-ready cathode active material (CAM).

Smart green tech

The planned commercial-scale black-mass plant will provide feedstock to Altilium’s battery recycling and CAM production hub in Teesside, one of the largest green investments in the region.

Altilium will work alongside academics from Teesside University’s Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre on the design and delivery of the black mass plant.

Professor Michael Short, Acting Associate Dean (Research and Innovation) in the School of Science, Engineering & Digital Technologies, is the principal investigator on the project.

‘As a University which is committed to responding to the climate emergency through the adoption of smart and green technologies we are delighted to be able to support Altilium with our expertise on this project.

‘Decarbonisation of transportation is a key enabler of the drive to net zero, and the battery recycling plant is destined to have a huge impact on the UK’s rapidly expanding electrical vehicle (EV) and battery production infrastructure. This project will help to establish the Tees Valley as a national hub for sustainable battery technology, and the wider North East as a national hub for sustainable EV manufacturing.’

Acting Associate Dean (Research and Innovation) in the School of Science, Engineering & Digital Technologies, and principal investigator on the project

Closing the loop

Altilium is currently the only company in the UK recovering critical battery metals from black mass.

The company’s advanced hydrometallurgical recycling processes result in a 50% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the use of virgin materials in battery production, and 20% lower costs, paving the way for more affordable and accessible electric vehicles.

‘We are excited to be working with the experienced team at Teesside University to close the loop on battery recycling and establish a sustainable domestic supply chain for the low carbon battery materials required for the electrification of transport in the UK.

‘With the growing volume of end-of-life batteries expected over the next decade, it is critical that we develop the infrastructure to ensure safe and efficient processing of this waste in the UK, rather than exporting these valuable resources to be processed overseas.’

Altilium’s chief operating officer and co-founder

A new battery strategy

Altilium’s full battery circularity model will be a unique customer offering in the UK, encompassing zero carbon EV battery collection, black mass recycling and chemical refining.

The company’s Teesside CAM production plant will have capacity to produce 30,000 MT of battery-ready CAM per year. This equates to 20% of the UK’s requirements by 2030.

It will also help support the government’s new battery strategy, launched in November, and outlines how the UK can establish a globally competitive battery supply chain that supports economic prosperity and the transition to net zero by 2030.

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