Mercedes-Benz held its groundbreaking ceremony for a new battery recycling factory in Kuppenheim, Germany, which will help reduce resource consumption and establishing closed-loop recycling of battery raw materials.
Mercedes-Benz lays the foundation for a sustainable battery recycling factory in Kuppenheim in southern Germany.
The first stage of the plant—mechanical dismantling of electric vehicle batteries—is scheduled to start ramping up at the end of this year. Subject to the outcome of discussions with the public sector, a hydrometallurgy pilot plant will be established a few months later. This approach for an integrated recycling concept within a single factory is currently unique in Europe.
Mercedes-Benz is investing a double-digit million Euro amount in the construction of the balance sheet CO2-neutral plant, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection as part of a scientific research project. This investment strengthens the role of the Kuppenheim site within the global Mercedes-Benz production network and marks a decisive step for Mercedes-Benz’s sustainable business strategy as it moves towards going “Electric Only”.
The Mercedes-Benz battery recycling factory in Kuppenheim will eventually cover every step: From dismantling at the module level, to shredding and drying and processing of battery-grade materials.
The hydrometallurgy process with a recovery rate of more than 96% enables a true circular economy of battery materials. Mercedes-Benz is cooperating with technology partner Primobius (joint venture of the German mechanical engineering company SMS group and the Australian project developer Neometals).
The Primobius’ process flowsheet targets the recovery of valuable materials from consumer electronic batteries (devices with lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) cathodes), and nickel‐rich EV and stationary storage battery chemistries (lithium‐nickel-manganese‐cobalt (NMC) cathodes). The LIB Recycling Technology is designed to recover cobalt, nickel, lithium, copper, iron, aluminium, carbon, plastics and manganese into saleable products that can be reused in the battery supply chain.
The recycling technology comprises two stages:
Shredding and beneficiation to physically separate components and remove metal casings, electrode foils and plastics from the main battery materials (“Shredding and Sorting”); and
Leaching, purification and precipitation to predominantly produce refined chemical products via the hydrometallurgical processing facility (“Refining”).
As part of the overarching scientific research project, the entire process of battery recycling is also taken into account: From the development of logistics concepts, through the sustainable recycling of valuable raw materials, to the reintegration of recyclates into the production of new batteries. Thus the partners are making an important contribution to the future scaling of the battery recycling industry in Germany.
The pilot plant is expected to have an annual capacity of 2,500 tonnes. The recovered materials will be fed back into the recycling loop to produce more than 50,000 battery modules for new Mercedes-Benz models. Based on the findings of the pilot factory, production volumes could be scaled up in the medium to long term.