Terrafame stands out from competitors with resource efficiency and lower emissions

14th April 2020
Articles Mining, Metals & Minerals

The electrification of the automotive sector is progressing rapidly. However, batteries are a stumbling block to the sustainability nature of electric cars as the production of battery chemicals often causes high carbon dioxide emissions. There is now a more responsible solution to this, as Terrafame’s battery chemical plant in started its production ramp up in June. Terrafame, together with us, also wanted to ensure production method of the battery chemicals produced in Sotkamo, Finland is amongst the most efficient ones in the world.

The production of battery chemicals using fossil fuels is very common around the world. The use of fossil fuels significantly increases the carbon footprint of batteries. When produced with the Terrafame model, carbon dioxide emissions from the production of battery chemicals will be 25,000 tonnes lower per year compared to battery chemicals produced with light fuel oil. This corresponds to the average emissions of around 9000 passenger cars per year.

“It has been a privilege to be involved in accelerating Terrafame’s journey, which aims to promote the electrification of the automotive sector. A significant investment in a state-of-the-art battery chemical plant will make more sustainable battery chemicals available. In order to operate, this globally significant investment requires seamless energy supply and energy efficiency,” says Arto Liikanen, Adven’s Account Manager.

There are two key factors behind more ecological battery chemicals

The battery chemical plant now being commissioned will become one of the world’s largest battery chemical production lines, where Terrafame’s current main product, nickel-cobalt sulphide, will be further processed into nickel and cobalt sulphates used as raw material for electric car batteries.

An important factor that ensures low emissions of Terrafame battery chemicals is bioleaching. It is an energy-efficient way of producing nickel, for example. Greenhouse gas emissions from the production process in general are also below average.

Another factor contributing to the ecological nature of battery chemicals is environmentally friendly energy production. To meet with the growing energy need of Terrafame, Adven has implemented a new energy plant in the area. The 10-megawatt solid fuel plant uses renewable fuels to generate steam and thermal energy for the manufacture of battery chemicals and other needs of the industrial area. The fuel recycled wood, forest chips, the by-product of sawmills and, comes from close by.

Extensive cooperation in the development of energy efficiency

In addition to basic energy production, the energy service also utilises waste energy from Terrafame’s hydrogen plants. The solution implemented and operated by Adven significantly reduces the share of energy produced with fossil fuels. A vacuum pipe heat exchanger is used for heat recovery. The same technology has been used in power plants in the past, but in hydrogen plants it is new. The amount of energy to be recovered depends on the utilisation rate of the hydrogen plants and at best corresponds to approximately five megawatts of energy production.

In addition to the new energy plant and utilization of waste energy, Terrafame’s and Adven’s cooperation covers a high-pressure steam production center, that is needed to start the production processes a few times a year. Adven has also implemented energy infrastructure, for instance district heating network to the area.

Terrafame and Adven have cooperated extensively in the development of energy efficiency, emission reduction and energy production for years. The overall aim of this work has been to ensure seamless energy availability and energy efficiency at the new battery chemical plant.