Teesside University, in collaboration with clean technology firm Altilium, is designing a commercial-scale battery processing and black mass production plant on Teesside.
The University says the plant will be capable of processing over 100,000 EV batteries per year once complete and will support the development of the “UK’s first circular economy” for electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
The £750,000 project has been supported with a grant of almost £560,000 from Tees Valley Launchpad, a collaborative research and development fund established by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.
Professor Michael Short, Acting Associate Dean (Research and Innovation) in the School of Science, Engineering & Digital Technologies and principal investigator on the project commented: “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.”
When a battery reaches the end of its life, the material is described as “black mass”. The University says black mass contains high amounts of the key metals, lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese. Using its proprietary recycling technology, the University says Altilium can recover “over 95%” of these battery metals to produce battery-ready cathode active material (CAM).
This project will help to establish the Tees Valley as a national hub for sustainable battery technology.
The planned commercial-scale black mass plant will provide feedstock to Altilium’s battery recycling and CAM production hub in Teesside. Altilium will work alongside academics from Teesside University’s Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre on the design and delivery of the black mass plant.
The University says Altilium’s Teesside CAM production plant will have the capacity to produce 30,000 MT of battery-ready CAM per year, 20% of the UK’s requirements by 2030.
Altilium Chief Operating Officer and co-founder Dr Christian Marston commented: “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.”
The University says Altilium is 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, the University says.