Solvay and its partner Veolia set up demo plant for recycling battery metals
After the announcement of their circular economy consortium with Groupe Renault to preserve resources across the electric vehicle battery value chain, Solvay and Veolia now move to the next concrete step of their project.
As part of their partnership to enable the circular economy of EV battery metals in Europe through closed-loop recycling, Veolia and Solvay have entered a Joint Operation Agreement to begin their collaboration in a demonstration phase.
Solvay and Veolia’s joint innovative technology will enable strategic metals from used EV batteries to be extracted and refined into high-purity metals ready to be reused in new batteries. As lithium-ion battery production in Europe is expected to increase drastically, the project aims to reduce the environmental footprint of future EV batteries while securing a local supply source for critical raw materials.
At this stage, the proof of concept has successfully demonstrated Solvay’s hydrometallurgical process’ ability to purify cobalt, lithium and nickel after Veolia’s chemical extraction process from shredded battery cells (“black mass”). The next step is to validate and optimize the process in a pre-industrial setting by running a scaled-down production unit.
The demonstration plant will feature and operate all the units of operation of the industrial process, including the dissolution of the metals contained in the incoming black mass, the separation, concentration, purification of individual metal elements, and finally their transformation into high-purity metal salts responding to the specifications of cathode active materials producers.
Different locations of the demonstration plant are still being evaluated, but the two companies already confirmed that the unit will be located in France. The companies benefit from public funding from the French government, on top of their own investments in this important project. The design, permits, utilities and equipment of the plant is to start this year.
The existing Veolia and Solvay partnership, leveraging Solvay’s expertise in the chemical extraction of battery metals and Veolia’s experience in lithium-ion battery dismantling and recycling, was created in September 2020. In March 2021, Groupe Renault joined the consortium, a key player in the EV market with a long-standing involvement in the circular economy and in the life cycle of EV batteries.