Electric vehicle (EV) battery recycling has been a topic of discussion for years, but it took some time to get enough electric cars on the road (and then off the road) for commercially viable EV battery recycling outfits to grow. The times, they are a-changin’, and we’re starting to hear a bit more about the idea and early ventures. One such story comes from Audi and Umicore.
The companies pointed out in a recent press release that 90% of the cobalt and nickel in Audi e-tron batteries can be recycled. In December, they finished a test phase that came to that finding. (Side note: if you see a study claiming EVs are not greener than gas cars, among other things, check to see if the study assumes 80–90% of the battery content being recycled or 0% of it being recycled.)
The next phase of the partnership is implementing a closed-loop system for the cobalt and nickel in e-tron batteries. (I presume this can and will be replicated for Volkswagen and Porsche batteries, but we’ll have to wait for an announcement or response from Volkswagen and Porsche to confirm that.)
“A closed loop for battery raw materials is a big leap technologically. We save precious resources and reduce CO2 emissions. In this way we come significantly closer to our goal of a sustainable supply chain and reach a milestone on the road to achieving an overall carbon-neutral balance by 2050,” says Dr. Bernd Martens, member of the board of management for Procurement and IT at Audi.
From the Umicore and Audi press release, here are a few more details: “For this closed-loop pilot project, Umicore will receive cell modules from the Audi e-tron model, which will initially be taken from development vehicles. From those cells, the materials technology expert will recover cobalt and nickel, and process them into precursor and cathode materials. From this, new battery cells containing recycled cobalt and nickel can be produced. Since the beginning of development of its first fully electric cars, Audi has worked on the recycling of the vehicle. The company aims to apply resources efficiently and purposely pursues this idea in all directions. In the future, further recycling skills are to be developed.”