Graphite recovery partnership to bring circularity to battery manufacturing

Altilium and Talga Group Ltd have entered into a partnership to recover graphite from old EV batteries for reuse in the production of new battery anodes.

New collaboration marks a significant step towards securing a sustainable domestic source of graphite for the UK EV battery industry
New collaboration marks a significant step towards securing a sustainable domestic source of graphite for the UK EV battery industry - Altilium

UK-based Altilium said its proprietary recycling process can recover over 99 per cent of the graphite from end-of-life EV batteries, while Australian multinational Talga has developed green anode production technology said to result in lower CO2 emissions from EV manufacture.

Graphite comprises up to 50 per cent of lithium-ion batteries by volume, but according to Altilium recycling of graphite has been largely overlooked as recyclers have focused on reclaiming cathode metals from battery scrap.

A growing shortfall in graphite supply is expected over the next decade and China (which refines over 90 per cent of the world’s graphite) has announced controls on exports, making a shift towards self-sufficiency critical for the UK to meet the growing needs of new green industries.

According to forecasts by the Advanced Propulsion Centre, UK anode demand for graphite is forecast to reach 46,000MT by 2027, growing to 95,000MT by 2030. Altilium’s planned Teesside recycling plant will have capacity to recover 20,000MT of graphite a year, enough to meet over 20 per cent of UK demand by 2030.

Altilium currently recovers battery metals, including lithium, to produce cathode active materials (CAM) for direct reuse in the battery supply chain. With the recovery of graphite, the company will be able to recycle all the battery components, enabling full battery circularity.

In a statement, Altilium president and COO Dr Christian Marston, said: “This breakthrough is a significant milestone in our journey towards a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly future for electric vehicle batteries. We look forward to working with Talga to build a domestic, sustainable supply chain for low carbon graphite in the UK and leading the shift towards self-sufficiency and energy security.”

Altilium will supply Talga with graphite recovered from EV battery waste at its Battery Recycling Technology Centre (ACT 1) in Tavistock and new pilot plant in Plymouth (ACT 2). The 18,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to begin operations later in 2024, processing significant volumes of CAM and battery precursors for qualification with OEMs and cell manufacturers.

Talga will use its patent-pending chemical purification methods to generate high-purity stock to produce new anode active materials and also carry out testing of coin cells and single-layer pouch cells.