New study highlights opportunity for UK to take world leading position 

Altilium Metals, a clean energy group focused on supporting the transition to net zero, has today announced plans to accelerate the development of the UK’s largest EV battery recycling plant, following completion of a six-month feasibility study, funded partly by the UK government’s Automotive Transformation Fund, and the first successful demonstration of its proprietary technology at its newly opened state-of-the-art analytical laboratory. 

The comprehensive study, carried out in collaboration with international consultancy Hatch, highlights the critical role that a large-scale EV battery recycling industry could play in attracting further investment in the construction of new gigafactories in the UK, and sets out the business case for Altilium Metals’ planned recycling plant in Teesside, which will bring significant employment, technology and financial benefits to the UK. 

Altilium Metals is currently the only company in the UK recovering critical minerals from end-of life EV battery waste on a demonstration line, at its EV battery technology centre in Devon, allowing the company to scale recycling innovations faster and speed up its time-to-market. The company was recently awarded a permit from the UK Environment Agency to recycle EV battery “black mass” at the tonne scale – the first of its kind and currently the only one in the UK. 

Altilium Metals CTO, Dr Christian Marston, commented: “We’re in the middle of a global energy transformation and the UK has an opportunity to become a world leader in the development of a circular economy for critical battery minerals. We’re moving into a phase where major economies need the green infrastructure to be built fast in order to achieve their net-zero ambitions. Because of the speed of the rollout, it falls to companies such as Altilium Metals to take the lead in the development of innovative clean technology solutions.  

“We are grateful for the support of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) under their Automotive Transformation Fund and look forward to working with them further as we embark on this next phase of scaling up our proprietary technology.” 

The feasibility study notes that by 2030, the UK will need 150,000 tonnes a year of cathode active materials (CAM) for the production of lithium-ion batteries needed to power EVs manufactured in the UK (according to research by the APC). Altilium Metals’ planned recycling plant in Teesside will produce 30,000 tonnes of CAM a year, recovered from end-of-life EV batteries and waste from gigafactories – enough to power 20% of new EVs produced in the UK by 2030. 

APC Project Delivery Lead, Bradley Dodic, commented: “The APC is proud to support businesses such as Altilium Metals in de-risking and accelerating their investment decisions in the UK. Through the Automotive Transformation Fund, we have been able to part-fund this six-month feasibility study which focuses on processing end-of-life batteries and reintroducing them back into the supply chain at scale. This comes at a pivotal time, with the mass adoption of BEVs, onshoring a full circular economy is a key part in unlocking a low-carbon supply chain.” 

Altilium Metals CEO, Kamran Mahdavi, commented: “The high demand for these critical metals in lithium-ion batteries will only increase in the coming years. Currently, refining is predominantly carried out in Asia but going forward it will be crucial to produce these critical metals in the UK. Altilium Metals will bring sustainable refining power to the UK, which will play an important role in our future energy independence.” 

As the second largest market for EVs in Europe and with the sale of new petrol and diesel cars banned from 2030, the UK is already at the forefront of the transition to an electrified transport sector. However, with growing demand for critical raw materials and concerns over global supply chains, the UK urgently needs an industrial scale battery recycling industry in order to help secure a sustainable domestic supply of these materials and reduce its dependency on imported raw materials that are mined and processed in other parts of the world. 

The UK plant designed by Hatch will have the capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of lithium-ion battery “black mass”, equivalent to approximately 150,000 electric vehicles per year or 10 GWh of lithium-ion batteries. It is designed to process a mix of different battery chemistries, including LCO, LFP and NMC. To compensate for any shortage of feed and imbalances in quality, it also has the optionality to process primary nickel-cobalt MHP, which will be sourced from Altilium Metals existing supply chain with world class ESG. 

The plant will consist of two processing facilities, a chemical plant producing 95,000 MT of battery precursors, including lithium carbonate and nickel sulphate, and a cathode active material plant, producing 30,000 MT of CAM, the highest margin component and final material format in a battery cell. Production of CAM allows full battery circularity and a unique customer offering to automotive OEMs, allowing collection of spent batteries and plant scrap and return of CAM for direct reuse in new cell production. 

The plant will create approximately 250 high skilled jobs and thousands more in the construction phase.