Finnish utility Fortum joins battery recycling market

FILE PHOTO: Finnish energy company Fortum sign is seen at their headquarters in Espoo, Finland July 17, 2018. Picture taken July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish utility Fortum will start recycling lithium-ion batteries, it said on Monday, joining a global market it estimates could be worth at least 20 billion euros ($23 billion) a year by 2025 as demand for electric cars takes off.

Fortum said it would become the first company in Europe to offer an industrial scale hydrometallurgical process for recovering cobalt, manganese, nickel and lithium, which can then be reused to produce new batteries.

“There are very few working, economically viable technologies for recycling the majority of materials in lithium-ion batteries,” Kalle Saarimaa, vice president at Fortum Recycling and Waste, said in a statement.

Fortum said it was also piloting so-called “second-life” applications where electric vehicle batteries are used for stationary energy storage after they are no longer fit for their original purpose.

($1 = 0.8835 euros)

Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Mark Potter