Black Mass: The Emerging Commodity in Battery Recycling

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Battery materials have always been at the forefront of technological advancements, but the latest term, making waves, might remind some of the cosmos. “Black mass,” contrary to what the name might imply, is not borrowed from astrophysics but represents the outcome of recycling efforts, specifically those concerning spent Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries or factory scraps. As a dark, grainy mixture, it contains crucial metals like lithium, cobalt, and nickel.

As the global EV industry grows rapidly, there’s an intensified focus on battery recycling. This is particularly evident among car manufacturers and Western governments seeking to construct supply chains independent of China’s dominance. Notably, recent references to black mass have increased in company financials, with giants like Glencore and BASF mentioning it. Since April, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Fastmarkets, and S&P Global have all begun regular price assessments for black mass. Several car companies, including BMW, Ford Motor Co., and Mercedes-Benz, have broadcasted collaborations or joint ventures probing the prospects of EV battery recycling.

Recent initiatives further underscore this interest. Glencore and Canadian recycling company Li-Cycle disclosed plans in May to process black mass in Sardinia, Italy. Likewise, BASF looks forward to beginning black mass production in Germany within the upcoming year. Moreover, an affiliate of Mercuria Energy Trading recently joined a joint venture with a U.S. recycling firm to distribute black mass globally.

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This intriguing metallic powder is manufactured by pulverizing and fragmenting batteries or battery cells, excluding undesired elements, and refining the rest. Predominantly, factory remnants from battery production serve as the main input source.

By the decade’s end, recycled materials are projected to contribute to a significant portion of the global metal supply—15% for lithium, 11% for nickel, and a whopping 44% for cobalt, per S&P Global Commodity Insights’ estimates.

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Aryaman Raghuvanshi
Aryaman Raghuvanshi
Aryaman Raghuvanshi is a Journalist at EFY. His passion is to explore the future of mobility, which gets him to cover latest technologies shaping the future of automobiles and EVs. But, at times he writes on broader technologies too. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aryaman-raghuvanshi-2431b7153

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