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Polish battery recycling facility to help establish a comprehensive collection and processing system

  • 27 October 2022

This project will involve research into and development of technologies for recovering and refining metals used in lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and automotive catalysts. Polish company Elemental Strategic Metals, the beneficiary, will then construct a Li-ion battery and autocatalyst recycling facility and begin operations.

The EU funding application covers the first two stages of the project until 2027, phased as follows:

- Phase 1: RDI stage and construction of the first industrial deployment (FID) pilot plant, 2021-2023

- Phase 2: FID plant process optimisation and further development, 2024-2027.

Subject to the current notification is Phase 1 of the major project. It is planned for completion during the 2014-2020 programming period, and Phase 2 in the 2021-2027 programming period.

Elemental, based in the town of Grodzisk Mazowiecki, central Poland, specialises in processing, recovering and refining industrial and precious metals. The company will carry out the initial R&D stage in a rented building in Sosnowiec, which will be used until the permanent infrastructure is built and equipped in Zawiercie. Both cities are in Silesia, southern Poland.

Technological development

The research will focus on the design and development of technologies to recover metals of strategic economic importance from spent Li-ion batteries – such as those used in electric vehicles and car catalysts. These include cobalt, lithium, nickel, and platinum group metals. The recovery of platinum group metals from alloys will also be investigated.

In addition, the safe transport, sorting, and mechanical processing of batteries will be developed.

Building the infrastructure

The construction phase, expected to begin in September 2022, will include the purchase of suitable real estate for building pilot installations, the construction of battery and catalyst recycling facilities and refineries. Offices and energy and communication infrastructure will be built, along with a sewage treatment plant.

The final stage will see the beginning of operations and pilot production, accompanied by improvements to processes.

Training and cooperation

Benefits of the project will include training of employees, both at Elemental and its partners, cooperation with research organisations and academia, and an expanded waste collection network.

At least 100 new, permanent and well-paid direct jobs are expected to be created, along with approximately 300 indirect jobs that could benefit former coal industry workers.

An environmental impact assessment and the use of consultants in the design phase should reduce any potential negative impact resulting from the plant’s operations.

To counter possible difficulties in recruiting qualified staff, attractive employment conditions will be offered and recruitment agencies used.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Development and first industrial deployment of technologies for recycling lithium-ion batteries and catalysts with the recovery of strategic metals” is EUR 102 141 747, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 72 042 726 through the “Smart Growth” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Increasing the number and the quality of research and development projects carried out by enterprises”.