The Umicore process is specifically designed to reach a high recycling efficiency for new generation rechargeable batteries. The process can also be used for recycling other complex materials.
The process is Umicore’s proprietary technology.
Large industrial batteries, like batteries from hybrid and full electric cars, are first dismantled in a dedicated dismantling line. Umicore operates one dismantling line in Hanau (Germany) and another one Maxton, NC (USA). The smelting operations are performed in Hoboken (Belgium).
Output products of the smelting process:
- Metal fraction: Alloy containing all Ni, Co and other valuable metals. These metals, can be further refined in Umicore’s plant in Olen (Belgium) and later transformed into Ni(OH)2 and LiMeO2 (Me: Co, Ni, Mn) as active cathode materials for new batteries. In that way, Umicore closes the loop “from battery to battery”.
- Slag fraction. The slag from Li-ion batteries is completely inert and non-hazardous and can be used as construction materials. When processing NiMH batteries, the REE contained in the batteries are collected in the slag fraction. They can be further refined to produce pure REE oxides.
- Gas emissions: the gas cleaning installation ensures that no harmful dioxins or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are produced. It also collects all possible dust carry over.