Process

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 industrial operation uses Umicore’s proprietary technology.

Large industrial batteries, like batteries from hybrid and full electric cars, are first dismantled in a dedicated dismantling line in Hanau (Germany). A second line is installed in Maxton NC, USA. The smelting operations are performed in Hoboken (Belgium).

  • Metal fraction: containing all Ni, Co and other valuable metals. These metals, are further refined in existing plant in Olen (Belgium) and transformed into Ni(OH)2 and LiMeO2 (Me: Co, Ni, Mn) in our plants in China and Korea or Japan respectively. These products are active cathode materials for batteries. In that way, we have really closed the loop “from battery to battery”.
  • The smelting process also produces a 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 slag collects the REE’s. Pure REE’s are produced by further treatment of this slag.
  • 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. Fluorine from the electrolyte is collected in the gas cleaning and can be recovered.