VW shows how 95 percent of the valuable EV battery materials can be recovered
At a plant in Salzgitter, Volkswagen is carrying out a process for recycling electric vehicle batteries in which up to 95 percent of the lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt, aluminum, copper and plastics contained in discharged batteries can be recovered.
The system carefully tests the recovered packs in order to identify the functional cells remaining inside so that they can be reused in applications outside of the automobile, such as mobile charging stations or backup energy supplies for private households.
Of course, with relatively few electric vehicles on the road today, there aren’t many batteries to be recycled, but VW is determined to build the skills now so that large amounts of used batteries will be decommissioned for them by the late 2020s be ready. The Salzgitter plant can currently process 3,600 battery systems per year and can be scaled over time if its processes are optimized.
“We know from years of research that recycled battery raw materials are just as efficient as new ones,” said Mark Möller, Head of Technical Development and E-Mobility at Volkswagen Group Components. “We plan to support our cell production in the future with the material that we have recovered. We really want to use every gram of recovered material possible as the demand for batteries is growing. “
The Salzgitter recycling process does not use an energy-intensive blast furnace to melt old batteries. The used battery systems are delivered, deeply discharged and dismantled. The individual parts are then ground into granules in the document shredder and then dried. After the aluminum, copper and plastic have been recovered, Volkswagen leaves the processing of the remaining “black powder” with lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt and graphite to specialist companies.
“As a result, essential components of old battery cells can be used to manufacture new cathode material,” explained Möller. “In view of the drastic increase in demand for batteries and the corresponding raw materials, we can use every gram of recycled material sensibly.”