Volkswagen recycles batteries to achieve zero emissions

 Alex Tosi for
Posted by Eleonora Candini on 13-Feb-2021

Volkswagen opens a battery recovery plant in Lower Saxony. In the pilot phase it is expected to manage 3,600 battery systems per year equal to 1,500 tons.

The plant inaugurated in Salzgitter by Volkswagen Group Components was created to make it possible to industrially recover the most polluting materials that compose it. The idea of the German group is to reach zero emissions for electric cars and to do so the maximum reduction of the environmental impact in the production phase of the accumulator, the recharge with energy derived from renewable sources and the subsequent reuse in other areas.

The built plant will achieve, in the long term, a recycling rate of raw materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt as well as aluminum, copper and plastic of more than 90%. Given the time when the volumes of exhausted car accumulators are minimal, the goal is to reach 3,600 batteries per year, corresponding to approximately 1,500 tons.

In the same center, Volkswagen had already invested 100 million euros in the development of battery cells and will invest another 900 million in a joint venture with the Swedish manufacturer Northvolt to start producing batteries over the next three years.

Blast furnace melting will not be used for recycling within this plant. The battery systems will arrive at processing already completely dismantled, the components are reduced to granules in a shredder and then dried.
Aluminum, copper and plastic can be recovered from the components, while the most polluting raw materials, lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt and graphite are reduced to powder.
Subsequently, the individual substances are separated and processed individually through hydrometallurgical processes carried out externally.

From research by the German brand, batteries created with recycled material are as efficient as new ones, so the company will support production with the recovered material. The data also show that the demand for accumulators and related raw materials will increase in the not too distant future and that the savings for a 62Wh battery produced using cathodes obtained from recycled materials and using energy from renewable sources is approximately 1. , 3 tons of CO2.

The sales figures of ID.3 also confirm the positive trend in electric and encourage new investments in this direction.

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