Vehicle OEM Mercedes-Benz is building its own hydrometallurgical battery recycling plant in Germany to cope with projected future returns of lithium-ion battery packs from its vehicles.
The pilot recycling plant in Kuppenheim is part of vehicle OEM’s strategy to close the recyclable material loop with partners for battery recycling in China and the US.
The plant is scheduled to start dismantling battery packs in 2023 with an annual capacity of 2,500 tonnes.
The second step— subject to discussions with the public sector— will be to recover battery-grade recyclate (cobalt, nickel, lithium and graphite in the future) using the hydrometallurgical process.
Mercedes aims to make the plant cover all the stages of battery recycling from dismantling modules to shredding and drying and subsequent material processing.
Based on the findings of the pilot plant, production volumes could be scaled up in the “medium to long term”.
Subsidiary to run plant
Mercedes-Benz has founded Licular as a wholly owned subsidiary to run the pilot plant.
Licular’s technology partner Primobius— a joint venture of German mechanical engineering company SMS group and the Australian project developer Neometals— is contributing technological know-how, including the relevant preliminary investigations, to the project.
The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding for the project.
Scientific support for the project is to be provided by German research institutes Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Technical Universities of Clausthal and Berlin.
Jörg Burzer, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, production and supply chain management, said: “Mercedes-Benz is pursuing a clear goal with a view to conserving resources: a maximum circular economy for all raw materials used.
“Sustainable battery recycling is a key factor in this, worldwide. With our new recycling plant, we are increasing the recycling rate to more than 96% while expanding our own expertise in the area of battery value creation.
“Through targeted collaborative ventures with high-tech partners in China and the US, we are globalising our battery recycling strategy and taking a decisive step toward closing the recycling loop in e-mobility.”
The new pilot plant will map the entire process chain of battery recycling: from the development of logistics concepts and the sustainable recycling of valuable raw materials to the reintegration of recyclate into the production of new batteries.