|VW battery recycling plant comes online in Germany ahead of EV push|
Volkswagen Group has opened a pilot battery recycling plant in the German town of Salzgitter that it believes can recover and reuse up to 90 percent of the valuable raw materials that make up the batteries for its growing wave of EVs.
The plant's recycling efforts are aimed at the end of the use line for lithium ion automotive battery packs, long after their first lives powering vehicles or their second lives as mobile energy storage devices. The plant focuses on the recovery of elements including lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt from the battery packs, along with aluminum, copper and plastics used in their construction.
Automotive News detailed the automaker's ambitious battery recycling plans in 2019. The plant is part of the multibrand automaker's $86 billion go-for-broke blitz into electric vehicles, including the Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron, and the VW ID3 and ID4.
The first vehicles in the group's plans are just getting to consumers, which means large volumes of battery recycling won't take place until much later in the decade, the automaker said. Initial volumes of recycling are targeted at only 3,600 battery systems per year, or about 1,600 tons, VW said.
In the Salzgitter plant, used battery packs are fully discharged and disassembled. The individual parts are ground into granules in the shredder and then dried, VW said. Along with more common aluminum, copper and plastics, the grinding process yields valuable "black powder" containing lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt, along with graphite. The elements are later separated using water and chemical agents by what VW calls "specialized partners."
"As a consequence, essential components of old battery cells can be used to produce new cathode material," Mark Möller, head of the Business Unit Technical Development & E-Mobility for VW Group, said in a written statement. "From research, we know that recycled battery raw materials are just as efficient as new ones. In the 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."
-- Larry P. Vellequette