Volkswagen Group Components has started the operation of its pilot hydrometallurgical processing plant to recycle electric vehicle lithium-in batteries in Salzgitter, Germany.
The company aims to recover raw materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt together with aluminium, copper and plastics to achieve a recycling rate of more than 90% over the long term.
The Salzgitter plant will only recycle batteries no longer fit for other purposes such as a second life energy storage systems.
Larger volumes of battery returns are not expected until the late 2020s at the earliest.
The plant has been designed to initially recycle up to 3,600 battery systems— around 1,500 tonnes—per year during the pilot phase.
The used battery systems will be delivered deep discharged, and dismantled.
Individual parts will be ground into granules in the shredder and then dried. In addition to aluminium, copper and plastics, the process also yields black powder containing lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt, as well as graphite.
Mark Möller, head of the business unit technical development & e-mobility, said: “From research, we know that recycled battery raw materials are just as efficient as new ones.
“In future, we intend to support our battery cell production with the material we recover. Given that the demand for batteries and the corresponding raw materials will increase drastically, we can put every gram of recycled material to good use.”
The CO2 savings are calculated at around 1.3 tonnes per 62kWh battery manufactured using cathodes made from recycled material and using green electricity.
Image: from right, Andreas Salewsky, plant manager Volkswagen Group Components Salzgitter, and council chairman Dirk Windmüller commence operation of the recycling plant.