Team of three targets CO2 neutral lithium for EV batteries

Team of three targets CO2 neutral lithium for EV batteries

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Rock Tech Lithium has agreed to collaborate with the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT and supply chain tracking provider Circulor. The Canadian-German company, which plans to supply lithium hydroxide to manufacturers of batteries for electric cars from 2024, most recently published construction plans for the first European lithium factory (converter) in Germany. This is now also to become the first factory in the industry to aim for CO2 neutrality and a closed material cycle for both lithium and valuable by-products.

The aim of the cooperation is to obtain comprehensive transparency of the lithium value chain – from the raw material, spodumene, to the end product, lithium hydroxide. In the future, it should also be possible to follow the battery, its life cycle in the car and recycling.

In this way, Rock Tech wants to make a significant contribution to a holistic view of the ecological footprint of electric cars. In the future, the company also aims to recycle the lithium produced at the end of the battery’s life. In this way, Rock Tech wants to close the cycle and in turn secure sustainable access to the raw material.

Markus Brügmann, CEO of Rock Tech Lithium said: “With the holistic documentation of our value chain, we create a decisive added value for our customers. They have information about the origin and environmental balance of our lithium hydroxide at all times.” Based on the work of Fraunhofer UMSICHT and Circulor, Rock Tech will create a material passport for its product. With this, the company is anticipating the upcoming EU Battery Regulation, which aims to ensure that batteries are sustainable throughout their life cycle.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT supports Rock Tech in recording all material and energy flows and calculating the life cycle assessment of the processes along the value chain. This begins with the raw material itself and ends with the delivery of the lithium hydroxide to the customers. Based on the data obtained, Rock Tech wants to further optimise the production process already in the planning phase – with the aim of reducing the energy demand as much as possible.

“Extensive collection and analysis of their data not only allows Rock Tech to make the production of lithium hydroxide more sustainable, but also supports them in implementing subsequent process optimisations in the most energy and environmentally friendly way possible,” says Ilka Gehrke, Head of the Environment and Resource Utilisation Department at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. The institute specialises in the areas of climate-neutral energy systems, resource-efficient processes and circular products, making concrete contributions to achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Circulor provides Rock Tech with lithium traceability from the mine in Canada to the lithium hydroxide plant in Germany. The British green tech company tracks raw materials using a software solution in real time, even when – as in the case of lithium – they change their physical state. Furthermore, Circulor also offers traceability of CO₂emissions generated in the supply chain, which allows Rock Tech to analyse and manage them at every stage of the supply process.

“This collaboration will enable Rock Tech to bring lithium to market with a clearly traceable origin and clear information on CO₂ emissions generated,” explains Douglas Johnson-Poensgen, CEO and founder of Circulor. “As the automotive industry is already preparing for the EU Battery Directive and Battery Passport regulations, those who can demonstrate such sustainable practices will have an advantage.” Circulor is regarded as one of the leading providers of sustainable supply chain traceability. The British-German company’s customers include Volvo Cars, Polestar, Jaguar Land Rover, BHP and Boeing.

At the same time, the digitalised provision of material and energy flows is a prerequisite for the economic recycling of batteries. Rock Tech Lithium’s goal is to become the first closed-loop supplier of lithium hydroxide. Currently, only one percent of lithium from batteries is recycled worldwide. The company aims to use 50 per cent recycled materials from spent batteries in the production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide by 2030 at the latest.

Related articles:

‘Information batteries’ proposed as way to store sustainable energy

First lithium carbonate produced in the UK

BMW invests in lithium extraction technology

Mercedes drives battery suppliers to sustainable cobalt and lithium


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