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29-09-2022 | Materials | News | Article

New Process Enables Higher Recycling Rates for Batteries

Author: Patrick Schäfer

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The "LiBinfinity" project is developing a holistic concept for recycling traction battery materials. This improves the sustainability of electromobility and reduces raw material dependencies.

In the "LiBinfinity" joint project, the research partners aim to recycle lithium-ion batteries without energy-intensive process steps. The mechanical-hydrometallurgical process is to be transferred from the laboratory to a scale relevant to industry. It does not require any energy-intensive process steps at all and enables higher recycling rates. Materials that cannot be separated mechanically are broken down at relatively low temperatures using water and chemicals. The partners’ approach ranges from logistics concepts to the reintegration of recyclates into the battery's life cycle.

The closed-loop approach is expected to improve sustainability and reduce Europe’s dependence on raw materials. "Especially in the electrification of trucks, batteries require so much material that using recyclates for other applications is not sufficient", says Professor Helmut Ehrenberg, head of the Institute for Applied Materials – Energy Storage Systems (IAM-ESS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). At KIT, the recyclates are tested for their suitability as starting materials for the production of new batteries.

Pilot plant at Mercedes-Benz

A recycling pilot plant with an annual capacity of 2500 t is being built at the Mercedes-Benz site in Kuppenheim. The research alliance is formed by Licular, a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz, KIT, Mercedes-Benz, Daimler Truck, Primobius, SMS Group, Clausthal University of Technology and Berlin University of Technology. The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) is funding the battery recycling project with almost 17 million euros.

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