Eramet, BASF and SUEZ collaborate to develop closed-loop process for recycling lithium-ion batteries

Growing market for electric vehicles will create a massive recycling need

Know-how and the best practices of Eramet team in extractive metallurgy for the valorisation of nickel, cobalt, manganese and lithium from spent Li-ion batteries.
Eramet
Know-how and the best practices of Eramet team in extractive metallurgy for the valorisation of nickel, cobalt, manganese and lithium from spent Li-ion batteries.

The ‘Recycling Li-ion batteries for electric Vehicle’ (ReLieVe) project, founded by Eramet, BASF and SUEZ, will receive a substantial funding of $5.18bn by EIT Raw Materials, a consortium initiated and funded by the European Union, and the three members. The objective is to develop an innovative closed-loop process to recycle lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles and to enable the production of new lithium-ion batteries in Europe.

As of January 2020, and over a two-year period, the project ReLieVe will carry out a series of activities for the large-scale development of this innovative process and the structuring of an integrated industrial sector: from the collection and dismantling of end-of-life batteries going into recycling all the way to the manufacturing of new electrode materials.

The collaboration along the value chain supports an efficient and integrated approach. The industrial members of the project are leaders in their sector and are ideally placed in the value chain: SUEZ for collection and dismantling of end-of-life batteries; Eramet for the development of the recycling process; and BASF for the manufacturing of cathode active materials.

Academic researchers from Chimie ParisTech and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) will support the members to accelerate the search for innovative solutions. The industrial members will also be backed by the automotive sector that will be part of the advisory committee.

The development of new European lithium-ion battery recycling capabilities will make it possible to respond to the strong growth of this market in the coming years and to the issue of securing Europe’s supply of raw materials required for its energy transition. Moreover, the virtuous recycling process meets the essential challenges of sustainable performance through its savings on raw materials.

The recovery of nickel, cobalt, manganese and lithium elements into battery-quality products is at the centre of Eramet Group’s current R&D developments. Laurent Joncourt, chairman of Eramet Ideas, the group’s R&D centre, commented: “The ReLieVe project responds to the European Commission’s appeal to unite European players to position itself in the fast-growing lithium-ion battery market.”

Thanks to this funding, the ReLieVe project will be able to accelerate its work and progress towards the construction of a lithium-ion battery recycling sector with an innovative and competitive process on a European scale.

“As a leading cathode active material supplier to battery producers for electrified vehicles, BASF is confident that recycling will play an increasingly important role in the roll-out of electromobility,” said Daniel Schönfelder, vice president of business management, BASF Battery Materials Europe.

We are committed to foster an innovative, sustainable and competitive battery value chain in Europe together with partners and will contribute our expertise in cathode material production to the project.

We are proud to bring our expertise and contribute to the recovery of end-of-life battery components through this partnership. Around 50,000 tonnes of batteries are expected to be recycled by 2027 in Europe and it could be multiplied almost tenfold by 2035. With the ReLieVe project, SUEZ is supporting the development of alternatives approaches that blend circular solutions with sustainable urban mobility,” added Jean-Marc Boursier, SUEZ COO and senior executive vice president, group in charge of Northern Europe and IWS Europe.

EIT Raw Materials, which is the largest consortium in the raw materials sector worldwide, co-finances the ReLieVe project. It was initiated and funded by the EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology), a body of the European Union. Its mission is to enable sustainable competitiveness of the European minerals, metals and materials sector along the value chain by driving innovation, education and entrepreneurship.

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