Umicore Battery Recycling
Umicore has developed and put into operation the world’s first recycling process enabling metal recovery from used Li-ion, Li-polymer and NiMH batteries with minimum environmental impact. This solution has the potential to change the face of battery recycling in Europe and elsewhere in the world .
Recycling of batteries is not new, but historically has been restricted to the main applications such as primary batteries, lead acid batteries and NiCd batteries.
For the new generation of batteries (Li-ion and NiMH batteries), no dedicated process existed. In the best case, they could be rendered inert to avoid the release in nature of hazardous compounds, or to recover some materials, like aluminum and plastics. But most of the valuable compounds – primarily metals like cobalt and nickel – were lost.
Some years ago, Umicore embarked on the development of a recycling process for the new generation of rechargeable batteries and within a few years became a leader in this sector. In 2011, to increase capacity and to further improve the process, Umicore has built an industrial scale recycling facility of end-of-life rechargeable batteries in Hoboken (Belgium). The investment enables Umicore to deal with the expected growth in the availability of end-of-life Lithium-ion, Lithium-polymer and NiMH rechargeable batteries. The use of such batteries is set to grow substantially, particularly as a result of the increasing numbers of (hybrid) electric vehicles on the world’s roads.