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More recycling and business worth billions to the battery sector

The main objective of BATCircle consortium led by Aalto University is to generate added value to sectors manufacturing battery metals and chemicals, as well as their circular economy.
Akkujätettä ja kemikaaleja. Kuva: Glen Forde
NiMH battery waste and chemicals used in the recovery of rare earth chemicals. Picture: Glen Forde, Aalto University

Business Finland has granted BATCircle (Finland-based Circular Ecosystem of Battery Metals) consortium approximately 10 million euros funding. Led by Aalto University, the BATCircle consortium aims at improving the manufacturing processes of mining industry, metals industry and battery chemicals, and to increase the recycling of lithium-ion batteries. Its goal is to strengthen the cooperation between companies and research organisations, and to find new business opportunities.

According to the EU, the battery market’s value may increase to 250 billion euros by 2025. The objective of BATCircle consortium is to create a market worth at least five billion euros in Finland. A particularly large amount of unused potential can be found in the recycling of batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries are used, in particular, in consumer electronics, and their use is growing strongly as the number of electric cars increases. At the moment, only approximately five per cent of lithium-ion batteries end up in circulation, while the recycling target should be at least 95 per cent.

According to Aalto University Assistant Professor and Director of BATCircle consortium Mari Lundström, it is important to find solutions to the problems of battery recycling in the near future.

“In Finland, we have significant research and expertise in the field, and when BATCircle brings these together, we have a really good chance to find solutions”, Lundström says.

In this project, Aalto University invests particularly in the research of battery recycling. Aalto University researchers have a great deal of experience and competence in the mechanical, pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical processes of battery metals. Pyrometallurgy refers to high-temperature melting processes, and hydrometallurgy means dissolving metals in, for example, acids, and recovering the residue metals. In addition, researchers focus on the structures of lithium-ion battery metals and assessment of electrochemical performance.

“A multidisciplinary approach is Aalto University's strength: in addition to technical research, we can simultaneously focus on the ecosystems of battery business studied by Professor Risto Rajala's research group”, Lundström states.

Focus of battery industry from Asia to Europe

Both the European Union and the Finnish government have woken up to the strategic value of battery metals and their value chains, as well as the related huge business potential. However, the battery industry is currently dominated by Asian companies. Consequently, Europe is at risk of losing new business opportunities and becoming more dependent on imports, both in terms of raw material and final products.

BATCircle is part of EU’s European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan), in which Finland, under the leadership of Aalto University and Outotec, coordinates research on recycling in the battery sector. Altogether 22 companies, four universities, two research institutes and two cities are involved in the national BATCircle consortium. The total budget of this two-year project is over 20 million euros. BATCircle is linked to Business Finland’s Batteries from Finland campaign.

BATCircle consortium consists of:

Aalto University
University of Oulu
University of Eastern Finland
LUT University
Geological Survey of Finland (GTK)
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Boliden Harjavalta Oy
Boliden Kokkola Oy
Finnish Minerals Group Oy
Fortum Power and Heat Oyj
Fortum Waste Solutions Oy
Freeport Cobalt Oy
Outotec Oyj
Nornickel Harjavalta Oy
AkkuSer Oy
CrisolteQ Oy
Oy Fennoscandian Resources Ab
Ima Engineering Ltd
Keliber Oy
Latitude 66 Cobalt Oy
Magsort Oy
Mawson Oy
Mine On-Line Service Oy
Mondo Minerals B.V.
Suhanko Arctic Platinum Oy
Teraloop Oy
Tracegrow Oy
Vulcan Hautalampi Oy (FinnCobalt)
Town of Harjavalta
City of Pori

Further information:

Assistant Professor Mari Lundström
Aalto University
[email protected]
+358 40 487 3434

Dr. Pertti Kauranen
Aalto University
[email protected]
+358 50 461 9088

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