Mercedes-Benz is preparing the construction of a pilot plant with which it intends to recover 96% of the batteries of its electric cars when they are no longer useful in the vehicle.
The objective is to reduce 70% CO2 emissions compared to manufacturing a new battery. To achieve this, Mercedes-Benz founded the subsidiary LICULARIAwhich will be associated with Primobius and Neometals. The group will design and build the facilities. In addition, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the universities of Clausthal and Berlin will provide scientific support.
Located in Kuppenheim in southern Germany, the recycling plant aims to sustainably recover materials important for electric car batteries such as lithium, nickel and cobalt.
The mechanical and hydrometallurgical process patented by Primobius guarantees the recovery of almost all the materials of the battery, which will then be reused to build new ones. In this way, Mercedes-Benz would achieve a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, especially compared to manufacturing the component from scratch, the company explained in a statement.
Recycling electric car batteries: lower emissions and less reliance on mining
Recycling batteries with such high material recovery percentages not only reduces emissions when building new batteries. It will also increasingly limit the need to mine materials and gain independence from raw materials.
The Mercedes-Benz electric car battery recycling plant will initially have a capacity of 2,500 tons per year during its pilot phase. The objective is to achieve the production of 50,000 new battery modules from recycled materials. The volume will increase as much as possible, depending on the needs and the results.
The company estimates that in 2022 they will begin construction of the plant dedicated to the process of mechanical dismantling of batteries for electric cars. Later, and depending on negotiations with the public sector, hydrometallurgical processing facilities will be set up where materials such as lithium, nickel and cobalt will be extracted from the cells.
Mercedes-Benz also said it would recycle batteries from its electric cars in the United States and China, though they didn’t reveal specific dates.
Additionally, Mercedes-Benz revealed that alongside efforts such as building the recycling plant in Kuppenheim, it has established a successful business model through one of its subsidiaries, Mercedes-Benz Energy, dedicated to large-scale energy storage. The division adopts the use of batteries that have become unusable in electric cars and transforms them to give them a second life.
They point to one of the automaker’s plants in Sindelfingen as an example, where they have a stationary battery system with a capacity of 1,400 kWh. It is connected to the electricity grid and serves as a temporary storage system for solar energy obtained from solar panels.