The recycling plant in Salzgitter, Germany, can handle 1200 tons of batteries from 3,000 cars, starting in 2020. But it is only expected to be used in volume when the first generation of electric cars come to the end of their battery life. The first battery systems for the ID electric car family are set to leave manufacturing at Zwickau at the end of 2019, using batteries from a plant in Braunschweig, so recycling the batteries is not expected until 2028 or 2029.
“For ten years now, we have been researching how we can recuperate raw materials. These include, above all, cobalt, lithium, manganese, and nickel,” said Thomas Tiedje, Head of Technical Planning. “We already have sustainable battery expertise in the Group and are developing this further,” says Tiedje.
VW is launching the ID later this year, followed by the ID BUZZ minivan, the ID CROZZ SUV and ID VIZZION sedan. These will be supplied by batteries from Braunschweig.
At Salzgitter the returning battery packs will be analyzed and either given a “second life” or recycled.
One possible second life for batteries is as a component for flexible charging stations. These are quick charging stations which can be operated autonomously, for example at festivals or large-scale events. They work according to the principle of a power bank. Alternatively, the quick charging stations are equipped with power connections and thus provide e-drivers with a quick charging option on long trips along freeways and national highways.
Other batteries will be shredded, then the material will be dried and sieved, allowing the employees to extract the so-called “black powder.” This contains the valuable raw materials of cobalt, lithium, manganese, and nickel. These materials then just have to be separated individually, after which they are available again for the production of new batteries.
“We prefer to recycle it ourselves and qualify our employees to do this, especially since we expect large batch sizes in the future,” says Tiedje.
In the long term, VW has a goal to recycle 97 percent of all raw materials. Today, it reaches 53 percent, and the plant in Salzgitter will bring this figure up to 72 percent. Future disitrbuted recycling plants will increase this to 97 percent.
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