Mercedes-Benz begins building a battery recycling plant in Germany. A pilot plant is set to begin operating at the Copenheim plant early next year. At the same time, the company wants to launch recycling plants with partners in China and the USA.
“Mercedes-Benz has a clear goal when it comes to resource conservation: the maximum circular economy of all the raw materials used. Sustainable battery recycling is a key factor here – around the world. With our new recycling plant at the Kuppenheim site, we are increasing the rate of recycling recycling to more than 96 percent and we are constantly expanding our own expertise in creating value for batteries. Through targeted cooperation with high-tech partners in China and the USA, we are globalizing our battery recycling strategy and taking a decisive step towards closing the material cycle in electric mobility”, As said Joerg Poerser, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG Group, Production and Supply Chain Management.
Pilot plant in Copenheim
In order to start the pilot plant in Copenheim, the Swabians set up Licular GmbH as a wholly owned subsidiary. To design and build the systems, Licular wants to collaborate with technology partner Primobius, a joint venture between German mechanical engineering firm SMS Group and Australian project developer Neometals. The project will be scientifically supported by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the technical universities of Klostal and Berlin.
96 percent target recycling rate
The project aims to set standards regarding battery recycling from an environmental point of view: the hydrotreating process used aims to enable recovery rates of over 96 per cent and thus enable closed cycle management of battery materials. According to Mercedes-Benz, it is investing a double-digit million dollar amount in research and development and building a CO2 neutral pilot plant.
“The pilot plant at the Kuppenheim site marks the entry into the topic of battery recycling that is important to the Mercedes-Benz Group and will make the company less dependent on the delivery of raw materials in the future. At the same time, we are gathering important knowledge on the topic of the circular economy and creating new sustainable jobs that can be expanded if the operation is successful. Sustainability also includes human rights. Here, as the Public Works Council, along with corporate management, we decided last year to proclaim principles of social responsibility and human rights as central to our daily activities,” says Michael Brecht, Chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Plant Business Council. In Gaggenau and Kuppenheim and Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Mercedes-Benz Group Inc.
mechanical and metallurgical process
In the future, the new pilot plant will map the entire battery recycling process chain: from developing logistics concepts and the sustainable recycling of raw materials to reintegrating recycling into the production of new batteries. The basis of the new recycling plant is a hydro-mechanical process that completely eliminates the steps of the energy-intensive and material-intensive thermoplastic process, according to Mercedes-Benz.
According to the car manufacturer, the direct incorporation of hydro-minerals into the overall concept of a recycling plant is the first of its kind in Europe and a key element in achieving sustainable battery recycling in the sense of a true circular economy.
The pilot plant will be established in two phases. By 2023, a mechanical dismantling plant will be built. In the second step – subject to promising talks with the public sector – hydrometallurgical processing plants for battery materials will start. This means that at Kuppenheim all steps from disassembly to unit level, shredding and drying to material flow processing to battery quality can be covered in the future.
The pilot plant will have a capacity of 2,500 tons per year, which should be enough to produce more than 50,000 battery units for the new Mercedes EQ models. Based on the results of the pilot plant, production volumes can be increased in the medium to long term, as Mercedes promises.
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