Davis Index: Market Intelligence for the Global Metals and Recycled Materials Markets

Japan’s Sumitomo Metals confirmed that nickel and cobalt from recycled batteries, including lithium-ion batteries (LIB) can be used to produce cathode material for LIBs. The company has developed a new process to recover nickel, copper, cobalt and lithium from secondary batteries, announced Sumitomo in a release on Monday.


The company has been working on ‘battery to battery’ recycling methods since 2017. From 2019 onwards, Sumitomo has been fine-tuning and testing a combination of smelting and refining processes at its pilot plant in Niihama City in Ehime Prefecture. The new recycling process could stably and efficiently recover high-purity nickel-cobalt mixture from used secondary batteries.  


Sumitomo’s announcement comes during the company’s ongoing manufacturing of LIB cathode material from the recovered nickel-cobalt mixture. The company evaluated the cathode material and verified that its performance was equivalent to batteries produced using raw materials from natural resources.


The technology matches the resource recovery rate for recycled batteries defined by the European Commission’s December 2020 proposal for a battery regulation.


The company hopes to commercialize the process and aims to improve Japan’s sustainable circular economy and contribute to the global resource recycling efforts.

Sumitomo Metal supplies nickel-based cathode material to Panasonic, which manufactures lithium-ion batteries deployed in Tesla’s EVs.


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