Volkswagen Group Components began operations at its first-ever electric vehicle (EV) battery recycling plant located in Salzgitter on January 29, 2021, the company said in a statement.
The company said that it aims to achieve a closed-loop process for recovering valuable raw materials from lithium-ion batteries. The raw materials include nickel, lithium, manganese, and cobalt with aluminum, copper, and plastics, achieving a recycling rate of more than 90pc over the long term.
Initially, the plant can recycle up to 3,600 battery systems, which is around 1,500mt per annum during the pilot phase. The company said that its annual recycling capacity can be scaled up to handle larger quantities as the process is optimized in the future.
Volkswagen said that the unique feature of the Salzgitter plant is that it 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 like a flexible rapid charging station or the mobile charging robot.
Volkswagen said that it intends to support its battery cell production with the recovered material in the future as the demand for batteries and the corresponding raw materials will increase drastically.
The company does not expect larger volumes of battery returns until the late 2020s at the earliest. The company is using the CO2-saving recycling process that does not require energy-intensive melting in a blast furnace.