March 7, 2019: The question of what to do with aging battery packs from electric vehicles hangs over the e-mobility industry, but vehicle OEM Volkswagen Group announced its answer on February 20: packs will be re-used or sent to its new battery recycling plant in Germany.
The company aims to re-use packs as flexible charging stations — in stand-alone applications or quick EV charging stations — or send them to a pilot recycling plant the German firm aims to build in Salzgitter by 2020.
Packs unfit for second-life applications will be recycled with raw materials — cobalt, lithium, manganese, and nickel — returned to the manufacturing process chain.
VW expects the arrival of large quantities of battery packs at the end of next year — initially 1,200 tonnes per year, or 3,000 vehicle batteries — that have reached the end of their working life.
Thomas Tiedje, VW’s head of technical planning, said: “For 10 years now, we have been researching how we can recuperate raw materials. We already have sustainable battery expertise in the group and are developing this further.”
Recycled battery parts will first be shredded, then the material dried and sieved, allowing the extraction of ‘black powder’, which contains the cobalt, lithium, manganese, and nickel.
Once separated, the materials will be available for the production of new batteries.
To this end the company is also building a pilot plant for battery cell production in Salzgitter, together with the Center of Excellence for batteries.
The plant in Salzgitter is to be followed by further decentralized recycling plants.