Mercedes-Benz held its groundbreaking ceremony for a new battery recycling factory in Kuppenheim, Germany, which will help reduce resource consumption and establishing closed-loop recycling of battery raw materials.
The first stage of the plant—mechanical dismantling of electric vehicle batteries—is scheduled to start ramping up at the end of this year. Subject to the outcome of discussions with the public sector, a hydrometallurgy pilot plant will be established a few months later. This approach for an integrated recycling concept within a single factory is currently unique in Europe.
Mercedes-Benz is investing a double-digit million Euro amount in the construction of the balance sheet CO2-neutral plant, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection as part of a scientific research project. This investment strengthens the role of the Kuppenheim site within the global Mercedes-Benz production network and marks a decisive step for Mercedes-Benz’s sustainable business strategy as it moves towards going “Electric Only”.
The hydrometallurgy process with a recovery rate of more than 96% enables a true circular economy of battery materials. Mercedes-Benz is cooperating with technology partner Primobius (joint venture of the German mechanical engineering company SMS group and the Australian project developer Neometals).
The Primobius’ process flowsheet targets the recovery of valuable materials from consumer electronic batteries (devices with lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) cathodes), and nickel‐rich EV and stationary storage battery chemistries (lithium‐nickel-manganese‐cobalt (NMC) cathodes). The LIB Recycling Technology is designed to recover cobalt, nickel, lithium, copper, iron, aluminium, carbon, plastics and manganese into saleable products that can be reused in the battery supply chain.
The recycling technology comprises two stages:
- Shredding and beneficiation to physically separate components and remove metal casings, electrode foils and plastics from the main battery materials (“Shredding and Sorting”); and
- Leaching, purification and precipitation to predominantly produce refined chemical products via the hydrometallurgical processing facility (“Refining”).