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Volkswagen Group Components begins battery recycling pilot

Volkswagen Group Components opened the Group’s first plant for recycling electric car batteries in Salzgitter. The aim is the industrialized recovery of valuable raw materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt in a closed loop together with aluminum, copper and plastics, achieving a recycling rate of more than 90% over the long term.

The Salzgitter plant only recycles batteries that can no longer be used for other purposes. Before the battery is recycled, an analysis determines whether the battery is still powerful enough to be given a second life in mobile energy storage systems such as the flexible rapid charging station or the mobile charging robot.

Larger volumes of battery returns are not expected until the late 2020s at the earliest. Therefore, the plant has been designed to initially recycle up to 3,600 battery systems per year during the pilot phase—this is the equivalent to more than 1,600 tons. In future, the system can be scaled up to handle larger quantities as the process is consistently optimized.

The recycling process does not require energy-intensive melting in a blast furnace. The used battery systems are delivered, deep discharged, and dismantled. The individual parts are ground into granules in the shredder and then dried.




In addition to aluminum, copper and plastics, the process also 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 specialized 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 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.

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



The best place to mine cobalt and Lithium will be (is) in old batteries.
I see a lot of money being made here, at least until we get oversupply of recycling facilities.
Question: do you recycle them as soon as the car is scrapped, or to they have a second life as stationary storage for a few thousand cycles, and then get recycled as metals?


VW's priority is second life; if the benchmark for this purpose is missed, the batteries will be recycled.


Second life packs in garages will reduce expensive
and polluting peak generation.


There isn't much mention of recycling graphite despite its relatively significant carbon footprint. Is EcoGraf the only company with a process to repurify recovered graphite from recycled batteries?


I wonder are we better putting second life packs under the control of the grid, or garages (or individual houses etc.)
My guess they would be better selling them to the grid operator who can use them for whatever use they seem fit.
You would hope that a liquid market for second life batteries would develop, followed by a market for 3rd "life" batteries for recycling.

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