In the pilot phase, the Salzgitter plant will recycle up to 3,600 battery systems per annum, which is equivalent to about 1,500-tonne material capacity.
Volkswagen Group Components, an independent division under Volkswagen AG, has opened the Group's first-ever plant for recycling electric car batteries in Salzgitter. With this, Volkswagen has taken a significant step towards the creation of a sustainable production chain of EV batteries.
Unlike conventional recycling plants, the Salzgitter plant follows a unique approach to recycling – it only recycles batteries that can no longer be used for other purposes. Before a battery is recycled, it is analysed to determine whether it can be reconditioned and reused in some mobile energy storage systems like charging bots or flexible charging stations. If it's not found to be powerful enough to be reused, only then is it approved for recycling.
As for the recycling process, the used battery systems are simply deep discharged and dismantled instead of being treated in high energy-blast furnaces. The individual parts are then ground into granules in a shredder and dried. In addition to metals like aluminium, copper and certain plastics, the process also yields valuable 'Black Powder', that contains essential and very valuable raw materials for batteries such as lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt and graphite.
From here, the separation & processing of these individual substances is subsequently carried out by specialised partners.
'As a consequence, essential components of old battery cells can be used to produce new cathode material. From research, we know that recycled battery raw materials are just as efficient as new ones. In future, we intend to support our battery cell production with the material we recover,' explains Mark Möller – Business Unit Head, Technical Development & E- Mobility at VW.