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Volkswagen Group Components Battery Recycling

Taking another step towards sustainability, the Volkswagen Group have opened the brand’s first electric car battery recycling plant in Salzgitter.

Added: 02 February 2021

Volkswagen Group Components Battery Recycling

Taking another step towards sustainability, the Volkswagen Group have opened the brand’s first electric car battery recycling plant in Salzgitter. Working towards environmentally friendly end-to-end responsibility for the entire value chain of the electric vehicle battery, the plant recovers valuable raw materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt in a closed loop together with aluminium, copper and plastics, achieving a recycling rate of more than 90% over the long term.

The plant aims to recycle batteries that cannot be repurposed. Batteries that are analysed and found to contain enough power, are repurposed to provide a battery for mobile energy storage systems such as the flexible rapid charging station or the mobile charging robot, for example.

With the pilot phase up and running, the plant has been built to recycle up to 3,600 battery systems per year to begin with. Once larger volumes of battery returns begin to increase in the late 2020s at the earliest, the system can be scaled up to handle larger quantities as the process is consistently optimised.

“Volkswagen Group Components has achieved a further step in its sustainable end-to-end responsibility for the battery as a key component of electric mobility. We are implementing the sustainable recyclable materials cycle – and play a pioneering role in the industry for a future-oriented issue with great potential for climate protection and raw material supply.”

Thomas Schmall, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Technical Division, and Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Components

The intelligent recycling process not only saves CO2, but it does not require energy-intensive melting in a blast furnace. Batteries received at the plant are deep discharged and dismantled. Following this, individual parts are ground into granules in the shredder and then dried. The process yields valuable “black powder”, which contains the important raw materials for batteries such as lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt, as well as graphite. The separation and processing of the individual substances by hydrometallurgical processes (using water and chemical agents) is subsequently carried out by specialised partners.

“As a consequence, essential components of old battery cells can be used to produce new cathode material. 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.”

Mark Möller, Head of the Business Unit Technical Development & E-Mobility

The plant CO2 savings are calculated at approximately 1.3 tonnes per 62 kWh battery manufactured using cathodes made from recycled material and using green electricity.

Contact Caffyns Volkswagen to find out more and to discover how Volkswagen is reducing it’s impact on the environment.

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