Major automotive company Groupe Renault is joining Solvay S.A. (Brussels, Belgium) and Veolia (Paris, France) in their partnership to enable the circular economy of EV (electric-vehicle) battery metals in Europe through closed-loop recycling.
The existing Veolia and Solvay consortium, created in September 2020, is thus reinforced with Groupe Renault’s pioneering position and experience in circular economy and in the life cycle of EV batteries, leading to a highly complementary partnership benefitting from Solvay’s expertise in the chemical extraction of battery metals and Veolia’s 10 years of experience in lithium-ion battery dismantling and recycling via a hydrometallurgical process.
With the number of electric vehicles on the road expected to grow from 10 million in 2020 to over 100 million by 2030 worldwide*, ensuring stable access to responsibly sourced battery materials is a strategic challenge.
In that respect, the three partners seek to establish a secure and sustainable supply source for strategic battery metals, such as cobalt, nickel and lithium. The companies plan to achieve this goal by leveraging their respective expertise at each step of the value chain – from collection of end-of-life electric vehicle batteries to dismantling, metal extraction and purification – and by enhancing existing mechanical and hydrometallurgical battery recycling processes. Through Solvay and Veolia’s joint innovative technology, strategic metals that were previously recovered in a form only suitable for metallurgical applications will be extracted and purified into high-purity metals ready to be reused in new batteries, thereby reducing the environmental footprint of future EV batteries through this closed loop.
The three partners are already actively engaged in an experimental phase, which involves setting up a pre-industrial demo plant in France with the capability to extract and purify end-of-life EV battery metals.
“Groupe Renault has a holistic approach to the battery life cycle: repairing first-life batteries to extend their automotive lifespan, developing second-life applications for energy storage and setting up a system for collecting and recycling batteries. Today, we are proud to reinforce our commitment to battery recycling by joining forces with Veolia and Solvay. We aim at implementing innovative and low-carbon battery recycling solutions to pave the way to sustainable sourcing for strategic battery materials as electric mobility is growing. Together, we will leverage our strong presence on the entire EV value chain in Europe to take a competitive position in the battery materials market and generate value beyond our core business,” said Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault.
Antoine Frérot CEO of Veolia, commented: “Given the magnitude of the environmental issues the world is facing, ecological transformation is an urgent need. With Groupe Renault joining Veolia and Solvay, we are collectively taking a step further towards closed-loop solutions to preserve natural resources. This shows how companies working together can think up and implement new solutions that both better our environment and renew our economies.”
Ilham Kadri, CEO of Solvay Group, added: “This consortium is a great example of partnership in the value chain that makes circular economy come true for battery metals. We are thrilled to have Groupe Renault join the consortium and view them as a strategic partner in closing the loop of circularity, bringing input material for recycling and re-injecting purified metals into the battery cycle. This project exemplifies how we walk the talk with our Solvay One Planet sustainability roadmap as we aim to more than double revenues generated in a circular economy by 2030.”
By Mary Page Bailey
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