Umicore partners with Audi on EV battery recycling project
Photo courtesy of Umicore.

Umicore partners with Audi on EV battery recycling project

Companies are testing a closed loop method to recycle electric and hybrid vehicle batteries.

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November 29, 2018
Dan Sandoval and Brian Taylor

Germany-based automaker Audi AG and Belgium-based metals company Umicore say they have completed the first phase of a cooperative research effort to boost electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid vehicle battery recycling in Europe. The two companies say they are developing a closed loop process for components of high-voltage batteries that can be recycled.

The two parties first started the project in June 2018. Previously, Audi says it had analyzed the batteries in its A3 e-Tron plug-in hybrid car and defined ways of recycling the batteries. Working with other researchers, Audi determined that the possible recycling rates for battery components such as cobalt, nickel and copper, claiming that in laboratory tests more than 95 percent of these elements can be recovered and reused.

The Audi-Umicore partnership is now developing specific recycling concepts, focusing on closed-loop approaches through which elements from the batteries are reused in new battery production. Audi is attempting to appl this approach to the high-voltage batteries used in its new Audi e-tron electric car.

The aim is to gain insights into the purity of the recovered materials, recycling rates and the economic feasibility of concepts such as a raw materials bank. Producing a secure supply with shorter delivery cycles are among the goals. “We want to be a pioneer and to promote recycling processes. This is also an element of our program to reduce CO2 emissions in procurement,” says Bernd Martens, who is involved with procurement at Audi.

Audi Group brands include Audi, Ducati and Lamborghini. The company sold nearly 2 million vehicles in its 2017 fiscal year.