More batteries, less waste: helping the industry’s transition to a circular battery metals value chain

The automotive industry is experiencing significant change. Stricter CO2 emissions targets are leading automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to introduce more plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs). At the same time, OEMs are faced with tougher recycling mandates. This in turn is sparking the development of reverse logistics networks and efficient recycling chains to process growing volumes of spent EV batteries and manufacturing battery scrap. Tomorrow’s demand for battery metals is unlikely to be met by primary mining alone, and traditional recycling also presents challenges. High in cost and polluting by nature, traditional recycling fails to yield the high-grade metals required for EV batteries. For these reasons, the automotive industry is looking for a new solution. A circular solution.

 

Creating a closed loop for end-of-life battery metals together with our partners

Working with Groupe Renault, a top automotive player, and Veolia, a global leader in optimized resource management, our focus is on creating a circular economy consortium to tackle end-of-life Li-Ion EV batteries, in line with our ambitions as a partner to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The consortium’s work spans from the collection of spent batteries to the reuse of extracted materials for the production of new EV batteries.

With these partners, we seek to establish a secure and sustainable supply source for battery materials such as cobalt, nickel and lithium by leveraging our collective expertise across the value chain.

 

Renault ZOE

Press release: Groupe Renault, Veolia & Solvay join forces to recycle end-of-life EV battery metals in a closed loop

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The consortium benefits from Groupe Renault’s pioneering position and experience with the circular economy and the EV battery life cycle, as well as their steady stream of spent EV batteries. Veolia, a major actor in waste management, brings to the consortium its technical expertise in recycling electric vehicle batteries. Its role is to collect, transport, dismantle and process end-of-life batteries mechanically and, through hydrometallurgy, to extract metals contained within them. 

Solvay’s role is to enhance Veolia’s current process to unlock the full metal value contained within spent EV batteries. Thanks to our solutions for metal extraction, strategic materials that were previously recovered in a form only suitable for alloys are made usable for reuse in new batteries, helping to reduce the environmental footprint of EV batteries. 

The consortium leverages Solvay’s decades of experience in hydrometallurgy flowsheets and CYANEX® metal extractants, which optimize the extraction and purification process. These contributions enable the hydrometallurgical battery recycling output to be converted into high-purity metal salts for new batteries – nickel, cobalt and lithium – as sulfates or other forms required by cathode manufacturers.  

What’s next for the consortium? Together with our partners, we are actively engaged in an experimental phase. This involves setting up a pre-industrial demo plant in France with the capability to extract and purify end-of-life EV battery materials from Renault, as well as to reclaim valuable materials in manufacturing scrap from actors along the value chain.

Electric vehicles and the lithium-ion batteries that power them are critical to society’s transition to clean energy and the future of sustainable mobility. Solvay is excited to take this step in support of the market and enable transformation across the value chain.

Laurent Cohen
Global Marketing Manager, Mining Solutions group, Technology Solutions business unit

Establishing such partnerships is directly in line with Solvay's One Planet sustainability commitments. We aim to generate 15% of our revenue from either bio-based or recycled-based materials by 2030. Partnerships are key in helping Solvay and our collaborators  achieve mutual sustainability goals, moving from a linear model to a circular model to solve pressing environmental and societal challenges, such as resource scarcity.

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