Norway's quest for 'black gold' from used car batteries
Oslo (AFP) June 30, 2023 - Wearing a white lab coat and with a gas mask within reach, Ole Jorgen Gronvold measures the humidity of an intriguing dark powder touted as the planet's next "black gold".
But this "black gold" - a term that usually refers to oil - is actually good for the Earth.
In southeastern Norway lies Europe's biggest plant for recycling used or defective electric car batteries, turning them into a valuable resource.
The 'black gold' of recycling
Recycling car batteries is big business in Norway, where the government has invested heavily in the industry.
The plant in Fredrikstad, a city of around 80,000 people, is a joint venture between the Norwegian government and a private company, and it is the largest of its kind in Europe.
It is here that Gronvold and his team are working to turn the used car batteries into a valuable resource.
The process starts with the batteries being dismantled and the parts separated. The plastic is recycled and the metals are melted down and purified.
The result is a powder made up of nickel, cobalt and manganese, which is then used to make new batteries.
"This is the 'black gold' of recycling," says Gronvold. "It's a valuable resource that can be used to make new batteries, and it's much better for the environment than producing new batteries from scratch."
A green energy revolution
The recycling of car batteries is part of a larger effort by Norway to transition to a green energy economy.
The country has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and it is investing heavily in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
Norway is also investing in electric vehicles, which are becoming increasingly popular in the country.
The recycling of car batteries is a key part of this effort, as it ensures that the materials used to make the batteries are not wasted.
"This is an important part of the green energy revolution that is happening in Norway," says Gronvold.
The challenge of recycling
Recycling car batteries is not without its challenges, however.
The process is energy intensive and expensive, and there is a risk that the materials used to make the batteries could be contaminated with hazardous substances.
In addition, the recycling process produces a large amount of waste, which must be disposed of safely.
These challenges are being addressed, however, and Gronvold is confident that the recycling process can be made more efficient and cost-effective in the future.
The future of recycling
Gronvold and his team are optimistic about the future of car battery recycling in Norway.
The government is investing heavily in the industry, and there is a growing demand for recycled materials.
In addition, the recycling process is becoming more efficient and cost-effective, which will make it easier for companies to invest in the technology.
As the demand for electric vehicles continues to grow, the recycling of car batteries will become increasingly important.
It is a process that is not only good for the environment, but it is also providing a valuable resource that can be used to make new batteries.
This is the "black gold" of recycling, and Norway is leading the way in this new green energy revolution.
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