In Germany, the DeMoBat collaborative project is developing a robot-assisted dismantling factory for traction batteries and electric motors for EVs. These processes would constitute and important element of a resource-efficient and sustainable circular economy for electromobility.
The traction battery in particular represents a central cost factor of electromobility and also causes considerable environmental impacts in production; the most efficient and long-term use of the cells is a crucial element in the sustainability of e-mobility.
Disassembling and reusing battery systems can help improve the environmental balance of electric cars. (photo: Irina Westermann, KIT)
The targeted disassembly of battery packs into individual modules and the subsequent recycling at cell level enables the cells to be used in a condition-specific manner—e.g., from reassembly to replacement batteries and use in second-life applications such as stationary energy storage to high-quality recycling of cell materials. The same applies to the electric motors, in which the rare earth permanent magnets and the copper coils are particularly valuable components.
Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA), the Clausthal Environmental Technology Research Center (CUTEC), the KIT (IIP & WBK), the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences and the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU) are working in this research project, which is funded by the German Ministry of the Environment (€13 million) together with numerous industrial partners from the automotive industry and the recycling sector on innovative solutions.
The funding is spread over four years and is made available as part of the Baden-Württemberg Automotive Industry Strategy Dialogue (SDA). The dismantling factory is to be built close to the industry. In addition, a center of excellence is established to support the further development of the project technologically and economically with three sub-projects.
Robot-assisted dismantling of batteries and drives for e-cars is a milestone for the widespread implementation of this technology. This project is unique in Germany, and if the research project enables us to recycle individual parts such as cobalt, nickel and graphite industrially and automatically through different, environmentally friendly processes, we not only make ourselves less dependent on raw material imports, but can also significantly improve the environmental balance of electric vehicles. In this way, we conserve rare raw materials and also advance the German industrial location.—Environment Minister Franz Untersteller
While the other research partners are primarily working on technical dismantling solutions, the IIP is responsible for coordinating subproject 1, in which relevant market developments, business models, legal frameworks, but also logistics concepts, capacity and process planning of the dismantling processes are examined techno-economically and will be rated.