Orano invests in recycling of electric vehicle batteries

Orano's ambition is to become a leader in the recycling of lithium-ion (Li-ion) electric vehicle batteries in France and on the European market thanks to a new and full hydrometallurgical process for the efficient recovery of materials of interest, which should be ready for operation by 2026.
© Orano

Electric vehicles: a growing market

The European Union (EU) is committed to the Green Deal aiming to achieve carbone neutrality by 2050. This objective supposes the decarbonation of priority sectors emitting the most greenhouse gases (GHG), starting with transport. The electric vehicle (or EV) offers an alternative to the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels and looks to be a sustainable solution for climate, particularly in France, where 90% of the electricity generation is decarbonized. 

In France, about 40% of cars should be electric (either all-electric “BEV” or plug-in hybrid “PHEV”) by 2030. Worldwide, the number of electric vehicles on the road is expected to reach 100 million, from 10 million today. This surge in the volume of electric vehicles will generate strong growth in demand for lithium-ion batteries, the main technology used to replace today's internal combustion engine. Therefore, battery production capacity in Europe should be 500GWh by 2028, and possibly in excess of 1TWh by 2030 (compared to a few GWh today). These batteries contain many strategic and expensive metals necessary for their operation.

The emergence of a recycling industry to anticipate both manufacturing scraps (between 5 and 20% of gigafactory production) and the end-of-life of the batteries, and to recover these high value metals that Europe lacks, is therefore becoming a vital necessity. Efficient recycling processes will help "close the loop" so that materials from used batteries can be reused in new batteries, while creating sustainable jobs in France and Europe to strengthen the EU's strategic autonomy.

million of electric vehicles on the road in the EU in 2019
millions of electric vehicles on the road in the EU in 2030
X 700
is the estimated number of lithium batteries in the EU to be recycled by 2040

A European regulatory framework 

A revised regulatory framework is scheduled for summer 2023, foreseeing the recycling of 70% of batteries on the European market by 2030 with a high recovery rate for metals. The proposed regulation on batteries and in particular induced waste is an indication of the scale of the challenge facing Europeans to build a sustainable value chain. The aim is to move towards a virtuous circular economy in which Orano group is already committed in its nuclear-related industrial activities. 

Electric batteries: an innovative approach to recycling

Purify valuable materials contained in used battery modules (cobalt, manganese, nickel, lithium) © Orano


The Orano group has over 40 years of recognized expertise across the entire nuclear fuel cycle (mining, chemistry/conversion, recycling, transportation, engineering, etc.), in the chemistry of materials and in hydrometallurgy, with proven capacity in industrializing advanced processes. 

Faced with rapidly growing demand, several major French and global players operating in the automotive and/or recycling sectors are developing an active interest in the Li-ion battery electric vehicle recycling market. 


Orano is leveraging its know-how and adapting it to address battery recycling in order to develop an innovative low-carbon process to recover and purify valuable materials contained in used battery modules (cobalt, manganese, nickel, lithium, graphite) for re-use in new components.

REsolutION: an ambitious project



In 2019, Orano launched an ambitious R&D program (named Recyvabat) together with CEA Liten, a laboratory specialized in energy transition technologies, to develop the innovative REsolutION process. 

The project is financially supported both at the French level, through the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and the France Relance plan, and at European level with two grants from the EU Horizon Europe framework program dedicated to research and innovation (Batraw, Respect projects). 

REsolutION has undertaken the construction of two industrial pilots on Orano’s site in Bessines-sur-Gartempe (Vienne, France). Based on initial results, the project is now ready for industrial scale-up.

The successful completion of the REsolutION project is an opportunity for Orano to contribute to France’s reindustrialization drive, by bringing high-value technological know-how of environmental value to a rapidly growing European and global market.

A plant project in Dunkirk (Nord, France)

In May 2023, Orano and XTC New Energy, a specialist in the production of cathode materials for batteries in China, signed agreements to create two joint ventures devoted to the production of critical materials for electric vehicle batteries. Orano's recycling plant project, combined with a project to manufacture cathode active materials (CAM) and precursors of cathode materials (P-CAM), will enable the Group to contribute to the creation of a fully integrated, sustainable value chain for electric batteries. 

France's Hauts-de-France region was chosen as the site for these three plants, because of its geographical location, existing infrastructure and the dynamic ecosystem that is developing around electric vehicle batteries in the region. The site was chosen at the Grand Port Maritime de Dunkerque (GPMD) under a Call for Expressions of Interest (French AMI) process. 
The aim is to cover around 10% of each of Europe's corresponding market needs by 2030.  

A dedicated Orano team

Orano group has pooled all its skills and expertise to form a team entirely dedicated to recycling lithium-ion batteries and to manufacturing P-CAMs and CAMs.. The Orano team, with over thirty specialists, is well-equipped to handle all aspects of the project in parallel (innovative and environmentally friendly technical solutions, regulatory monitoring, engineering, supply chain, transport, etc.) with a single goal in mind: to become a leader in the electric vehicle recycling in France and Europe by 2030. 


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