A tech group planning a multi-million pound factory in the North East has announced a major breakthrough in battery recycling.

The plan from Altilium Metals - the UK’s largest EV battery recycling business - will create hundreds of jobs in the region as it transforms battery waste from more than 150,000 electric vehicles into ‘Cathode Active Material’, a key component of new batteries.

Between 100 and 200 high-value jobs are said to be lined up before 2025 as well as hundreds more during its construction - with a projected 18-month build to get the facility up and running.

Altilium is the only company in the UK recycling and upcycling old EV batteries for direct reuse in the manufacturing of new EV batteries. Combining green chemistry with advanced materials science, the company is building a domestic, sustainable source of battery raw materials, reducing reliance on imported materials from China and helping to decarbonise the UK transport sector.

Using its EcoCathode process, Altilium says it has now successfully processed LFP lithium batteries, recovering over 97% of the lithium, marking an important step towards sustainable battery recycling. Recovering lithium at high efficiency is a significant breakthrough, as it improves the economics of recycling LFP batteries, which are expected to make up over 40% of the global market by 2030.

Using the EcoCathode process, Altilium’s CAM has the potential to extend the lifespan of these batteries, while also reducing the carbon emissions by 60% and costs by 20% compared to virgin raw materials, contributing to the creation of more efficient and environmentally friendly EVs.


Teesside factory announcement

$2.5million funding boost

The material has been sent to Imperial College London for electrochemical performance testing and chemical analysis as part of a collaborative R&D project with a leading automotive manufacturer.

Altilium has now demonstrated its ability to recycle both LFP and NMC batteries, which will be critical to developing an economically viable circular economy for battery materials in the UK. As lower cost batteries become more widespread, battery recycling businesses will need to find ways to process these new battery chemistries, which have traditionally been less attractive to recyclers.

Altilium’s first mega-scale recycling facility, located in Teesside, will process battery waste from 150,000 EVs a year and has been designed to handle a mixed feed of battery chemistries, including LFP.

Altilium COO Dr Christian Marston said: “We are committed to developing innovative new technologies as we look to build a domestic supply chain for the lowest carbon battery materials. By optimising our technology we are resolving some of the economic challenges around recycling LFP batteries and delivering high quality CAM for qualification with automotive partners.”

NMC batteries, which contain lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt, are currently the dominant chemistry in the UK. However, LFP batteries, which use lithium iron phosphate as the cathode material, are becoming increasingly popular with automotive OEMs and battery manufacturers, as they look to reduce their reliance on scarce materials, such as nickel and cobalt.

The shift to LFP batteries presents a challenge for battery recyclers, as the iron and phosphate are less valuable than nickel and cobalt, which makes the economics more challenging. As a result, LFP batteries are currently less likely to be recycled. One way to address this is by recycling more of the lithium, which is a high-value material and can be reused in the production of new CAM.

Altilium’s first mini-commercial plant is currently under construction in Plymouth while its planned Teesside plant will be one of the largest EV battery recycling facilities in Europe. The plant will have the capacity to process scrap from over 150,000 EVs per year, producing 30,000 MT of CAM, enough to meet around 20% of the UK’s expected needs by 2030.

The company is backed by SQM Lithium Ventures, the corporate venture arm of the lithium business of Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM).