At the end of last month (29), Volkswagen inaugurated in Salzgitter, Germany, its first installation for recycling electric vehicle batteries, betting on a recovery rate of over 90% in raw materials such as lithium, nickel , manganese and cobalt in a closed circuit, in addition to aluminum, copper and plastics.
The pilot project not only addresses the classic question about the fate of electric car batteries, but points to an alternative to disposal that can make the electric mobility industry increasingly circular and sustainable, adding the “recyclable” attribute to the “ecological” characteristics ”And“ silent ”cars of the future.
The great advantage of the Volkswagen plant in Salzgitter is that it will recycle only batteries that can no longer be used for other purposes. Before being recycled, each battery will undergo an analysis that will determine its potential to have a second life in mobile energy storage systems.
How are electric car batteries recycled?
Volkswagen’s new recycling process does not demand intensive fusion in blast furnaces, which end up demanding high energy consumption. In recycling at Salzgitter, used battery systems are delivered fully discharged and disassembled to the factory, and then their individual parts are ground into granules in the crusher and then dried.
In addition to producing aluminum, copper and recycled plastics, the grinding process will obtain a precious “black powder”, containing lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt and graphite. “The essential components of old battery cells can be used to produce new cathode material”, explains head of department Mark Möller, on the company’s website.
For now, the plant was designed to recycle up to 3,600 battery systems per year, the equivalent of more than 1,600 tonnes, but the increase in production and sales of electric vehicles will certainly increase those numbers dramatically.