Construction starts on battery recycling plant

| Transport

A new battery recycling facility will reduce dependences on critica raw material availability

Mercedes-Benz begins work on the construction of its battery recycling factory in Kuppenheim, Germany

The new battery recycling facility will cut resource consumption and establish closed-loop recycling of battery raw materials, according to the company. The first stage of the process is mechanical dismantling of electric vehicle batteries and this 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 only a few months later. This innovative 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”.

According to Jörg Burzer of Mercedes-Benz Group, this symbolises the decisive step towards closing the material cycle for batteries. With a recycling rate of more than 96 percent, a ‘mine of tomorrow’ is being created here in Kuppenheim.

“This approach enables us to incorporate the valuable raw materials into new Mercedes-EQ vehicles. We are consistently expanding our expertise of the battery value chain and are taking an important step in our strategy towards ‘Electric Only’.

The local Minister for the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector believes this move is of particular importance in view of the limited availability of important and highly sought-after raw materials such as lithium, cobalt or nickel.

In future, the recycling factory will cover every step: From dismantling at the module level, to shredding and drying and processing of battery-grade materials. The hydrometallurgy process with a recovery rate of more than 96 percent enables a true circular economy of battery materials.

As part of an overarching scientific research project with its partners, the entire process of battery recycling is also taken into account: From the development of logistics concepts, through the sustainable recycling of valuable raw materials, to the reintegration of recyclates into the production of new batteries.

The pilot plant is expected to have an annual capacity of 2,500 tonnes. The recovered materials will be fed back into the recycling loop to produce more than 50,000 battery modules for new Mercedes-Benz models. Based on the findings of the pilot factory, production volumes could be scaled up in the medium to long term.

Jonathan Newell
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