An Approach Toward a Sustainable and Circular Battery Value Chain

June 11, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

Johnson Matthey announces key partnerships and agreements for the development of its new sustainable plant and battery material recycling processes.

Johnson Matthey (JM) is a global leader in the development and supply of sustainable technologies. 

Recently, the company has been active in making key strategic partnerships to consolidate the move toward a more sustainable electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem. In mid to late April, Johnson announced its entry into two partnerships, one with Stena Recycling Group, and another with Finnish Minerals Group. Stena is a leader in industrial waste recycling and end-of-life products and Finnish Minerals is Finland's state mining company. 

Image used courtesy of Johnson Matthey

JM and Stena Recycling Group

As the global demand for EVs increases as countries and companies push toward a zero carbon future, the demand for lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) and their constitutive materials is also expected to rise. The recycling of these batteries and their materials will be of utmost importance for environmental sustainability. Companies like JM and Stena are aiming to create a balanced turnover of such materials to achieve circularity in the supply chain. 

Stena works with businesses across the globe (with locations in 173 locations) to develop sustainable circular solutions. The group recycles over six million tonnes of materials each year including 240,000 end of life vehicles. Stena is using its facilities and generating processes to recover EV battery materials for further refining. Together, JM and Stena aim to create an efficient value chain in Europe for LiBs and cell manufacturing materials. JM  will be developing further steps for fully refining materials that can be used in LiB manufacturing. This is hoped to increase the recycled content of new batteries.

In a news release, Chief Executive of JM’s Efficient Natural Resources Sector, Jane Toogood, commented: “We are excited to be collaborating with Stena in delivering an efficient battery refining solution to the European market. Battery recycling is a good fit with JM’s core expertise in battery materials and the refining of strategic metals, strengthening our position in the development of a sustainable and circular battery value chain.”


JM and Finnish Materials Group

JM has started the front-end engineering design for its second commercial plant, which is to be located in Vaasa, on the west coast of Finland. By locating the plant in Finland, JM will have closer proximity to major European automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and cell manufacturers. The plant will only use locally generated renewable energy to run and will have an innovative effluent treatment solution. The nameplate capacity of the plant will be 30kT and construction is expected to go ahead later this year. This is subject to board approval following the completion of the design.

Finnish Minerals Group will be supporting JM in the development of the new plant. One of the reasons why JM and Finnish Materials partnered was because they both wish to create a Finnish battery ecosystem. 

Image used courtesy of Johnson Matthey

Finnish Materials will be investing in two key areas. The first will be working with JM to co-develop an integrated solution to treat sodium sulfate. This is a common manufacturing by-product and treating it can help to create a sustainable supply chain to conserve natural resources and protect the local environment. Secondly, Finnish Minerals will invest in pre-treatment technology of nickel and cobalt sulfates to tailor the materials to the requirements of high nickel cathode materials.

JM has also announced its collaborations with a global supplier of refined nickel products, Nornickel, and a supplier of sustainable lithium products, SQM. These developments allow JM to secure the supply of sustainably and responsibly sourced raw materials for cathode material production. 

JM’s recent endeavors will be integral to creating a trusted sustainable circular supply chain for automotive manufacturers and their customers. The company’s efforts will also support the commercialization of its eLNO family of nickel-rich advanced cathode materials.