Fortech is a Costa Rican company that is dedicated to providing adequate treatment to batteries once their useful life cycle is over through the technology for the extraction of critical metals that they developed.
“We are in the midst of a paradigm shift and industrializing the closing of the useful life of batteries with the technical separation of the components without producing emissions in the process,” says Guillermo Pereira.
Recovery through biochemistry
And he comments: “We are talking about an electromechanical process with recovery through biochemistry. Our factory does the inverse of the machines that produce the equipment in the assemblers: we separate the materials and obtain the base materials such as plastic, copper, aluminum, lithium, cobalt and nickel”.
About 95% of all materials are recovered with this dynamic and 5% are used during the procedure. Meanwhile, the final products are exported to European and Asian markets dedicated to the manufacture of batteries in the case of metallic oxides rich in cobalt and lithium. The remainder is for multiple uses in industry, one of the most coveted is copper.
Currently, the Fortech project, the winning proposal of Mobility Talks, the first Latin American electric mobility contest, is in the permitting phase for the installation of the approximately 2,500 square meter plant in Costa Rica with a view to opening in November of this year.
In parallel, a battery collection campaign is being carried out in conjunction with GIZ. Today approximately 80 to 100 tons per year are received from the electronics that will be used to start up the factory. The goal is to have the plant ready and experienced by the time the batteries of the first electric vehicles to enter circulation need to be treated.
“With a German university we will absorb technology to manipulate the batteries of electric vehicles that we will receive in the coming years, in addition to acting correctly in the discharge of the same, the technical disarmament and diagnosis”, indicates Pereira.
Following this line of work, a deactivation process was created at the site where the waste is generated; therefore, pre-processed materials would be transported to the plant to reduce the risk.
In this regard, he anticipates that “the projection is regional and the intention is to seek partners in Latin American countries to develop modular systems so as not to centralize the solution in a single country.”
However, it is not intended as a decision to take this year, but there are already advanced conversations with several companies in the electric mobility sector. “In 10 years we will have a shower of batteries for electric vehicles,” says the CEO of Fortech.
Thinking about the possibility of a circular economy related to the national industry, he considers that “the production of batteries in the country is feasible” to avoid export, but not in the short term. In this regard, he assures: “I see it in about five years, we are already investigating the possibility of establishing battery assemblers.”
Along these lines, he mentions a case in Argentina where a company dedicated to lead batteries began its transition and now manufactures lithium batteries, “with the paradox of having to buy from Asia the metal that was extracted from a regional salt mine”.