Automotive

VW opens a recycling plant for batteries at the end of their lives

VW opens a recycling plant for...
Volkswagen anticipates that it won’t experience a large number of batteries to be returned from its electric vehicles until later in the decade, so it is starting with a pilot project at its battery recycling center
Volkswagen anticipates that it won’t experience a large number of batteries to be returned from its electric vehicles until later in the decade, so it is starting with a pilot project at its battery recycling center
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Volkswagen anticipates that it won’t experience a large number of batteries to be returned from its electric vehicles until later in the decade, so it is starting with a pilot project at its battery recycling center
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Volkswagen anticipates that it won’t experience a large number of batteries to be returned from its electric vehicles until later in the decade, so it is starting with a pilot project at its battery recycling center
Workers at VW's recycling center will deep discharge batteries and dismantle them completely, with the individual components to be ground down into granules and dried
2/3
Workers at VW's recycling center will deep discharge batteries and dismantle them completely, with the individual components to be ground down into granules and dried
To begin with, VW's recycling center will tackle 3,600 battery systems each year
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To begin with, VW's recycling center will tackle 3,600 battery systems each year
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We've seen a number of automakers take steps to give their electric vehicle batteries a second life in highway charging stations or storage systems for the home, but at some point these deteriorating devices do reach the end of the road. Volkswagen has just opened a recycling plant for this very scenario, where it hopes to recover the raw materials from its fully depleted batteries, which can then be used to build brand new ones.

Volvo, Nissan and Renault are a few of companies that are repurposing their batteries in different ways. These devices typically last eight to 10 years during their initial use before declining to the point where they can no longer power electric vehicles, but can still offer enough performance for other energy storage applications, be it for the home or elsewhere.

But Volkswagen is taking aim at batteries that can no longer serve these purposes either. Its first car battery recycling plant, opened in Salzgitter, Germany, over the weekend, is dedicated to recycling batteries that are not powerful enough to be given a second life.

Its machinery and workers will instead deep discharge the batteries and dismantle them completely, with the individual components to be ground down into granules and dried. Volkswagen expects this process to yield the raw materials needed for new battery production, such as copper, aluminum, lithium, manganese, cobalt and graphite.

Workers at VW's recycling center will deep discharge batteries and dismantle them completely, with the individual components to be ground down into granules and dried
Workers at VW's recycling center will deep discharge batteries and dismantle them completely, with the individual components to be ground down into granules and dried

“From research, we know that recycled battery raw materials are just as efficient as new ones,” says Mark Möller, Head of the Business Unit Technical Development & E-Mobility. “In the future, we intend to support our battery cell production with the material we recover. Given that the demand for batteries and the corresponding raw materials will increase drastically, we can put every gram of recycled material to good use.”

Volkswagen anticipates that it won’t see a large number of batteries returned from its electric vehicles until later in the decade, so the Salzgitter plant will start out as a pilot project with means to recycle 3,600 battery systems each year, and will be scaled up from there.

Source: Volkswagen

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5 comments
buzzclick
Good one VW. The time has come for the companies who build EV's to own up and build facilities like this. What is Tesla doing about it?
Troublesh00ter
This is a VERY big deal. As EVs become more common and our economy shifts from fossil fuels to electric, we absolutely MUST have some means of recovering and recycling those materials which go into the EV power sources which can be pressed into service again. Facilities such as the one VW has built here need to be considered worldwide and VERY DAMNED SOON.

We have enough waste as it is. Battery components shouldn't be a part of that.
Username
Interesting that Nissan is mentioned. There was recently in Canadian news a story about a Leaf owner who wanted to get his battery replace and got the run around from the dealer and Nissan home office. At one point they agree they would do it for 100k. That's more than twice the cost of a new leaf. Hopefully this is not an indications of where the industry is going. Ten year old cars are still perfectly usable and should not be turned into lawn ornaments.
paul314
Glad to know someone is thinking of this. With a good recycling system, almost all of the material should be recoverable -- it's just a question of whether people will be using that same battery chemistry by then.
Johannes
Yes folks, it's the 21st century. Any new technology should automatically require the developer, manufacturer or seller to be responsible for the recovery and re-use of the key components and materials. I think regulations around this might be more advanced in EU than elsewhere, but all jurisdictions need to up their game in mandating real sustainability.