Production waste alters the perception of battery durability. Northvolt, however, has teamed up with a start-up Swedish company to get the most out of battery production waste, and also help decarbonize the fertilizer industry while they’re at it.
Waste from battery production could be the key sustainable ingredient to accelerate crop growth. Northvolt, a Swedish-based battery manufacturer that was founded with circular production methods and sustainability in its DNA, has partnered with Cinis Fertilizer, a Swedish start-up producing sustainable fertilizers from product waste. manufacturers that it sources from battery and paper manufacturers.
Under the agreement, the battery maker will supply 200,000 tonnes of sodium sulfate per year to the fertilizer maker. The material is a type of salt that can be recovered during the battery manufacturing process. To this end, Northvolt has designed a new water treatment technology at its “Ett” Gigafactory in Skellefteå, Sweden, which has been developed taking into account the precise configuration of Northvolt’s cathode fabrication steps.
During the production of electrode active material of its NMC cells, wastewater containing ammonia and metals is produced. The new facility can recover ammonia from this water for reuse in the manufacture of batteries. After further filtration, the metals are removed leaving a suspension of highly concentrated sodium sulfate (Na2SO4). The slurry is then dried and crystallized before being sent to Cinis for the production of fertilizers.
“This is just one example of the positive results that can be achieved by investing in circular manufacturing,” said Emma Nehrenheim, environmental manager at Northvolt. “In this case, the material involved is salt, but in other areas of Northvolt’s production process, our engineers are engaged in developing solutions to ensure that water, heat, energy and d ‘other materials that would otherwise be wasted are instead recovered and recycled. to one goal or another.
The buyer of the salt is a Swedish start-up which is committed to producing “the most environmentally friendly mineral fertilizer in the world”. The company sources the chloride-rich ash that paper and pulp mills collect in electrostatic precipitators, sodium sulfate from Northvolt, and Cinis sources potassium chloride from other facilities as well. industrial.
By sourcing raw materials for their fertilizers from industrial waste from the pulp and paper industry as well as from battery manufacturing, Cinis Fertilizer claims it can reduce its operation’s energy consumption by 50%. By reusing chemicals that are considered waste in other industries, the production of this fertilizer will produce 75% less carbon dioxide than conventional equivalents.
“We share a common goal with Northvolt: to create value-added products for a future without fossil fuels,” said Jakob Liedberg, CEO of Cinis. “Thanks to this new partnership, we will produce a fossil fuel-free fertilizer with a carbon footprint close to zero, and make a unique contribution to more sustainable agriculture. “
A specific date for the first delivery of sodium sulfate from Northvolt to Cinis has not been set as part of the deal. Over the next two years, however, Cinis will build two fertilizer plants in northern Sweden, one of which is adjacent to the Northvolt Ett Gigafactory. The electricity needed to produce fertilizer will be renewable, according to the company. For now, the wastewater treatment will only be deployed at the Swedish facility, as it is designed to treat waste from the production of active electrode materials. There are no such processes undertaken at the Northvolt site in Poland, and therefore no possibility of producing sodium sulphate.
“Going forward, Northvolt will always work to ensure that the environmental footprint of its operations is as low as possible; As Northvolt establishes additional active ingredient production capacity, we look forward to building on the foundation we already have in place with Northvolt Ett’s wastewater treatment technology, ”said William Steel, Director Northvolt editorial. pv magazine.
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