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Volkswagen Kicks off New Battery Recycling Initiative

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The electric ID.4 watching a sunset in a desert
VW is developing an ambitious in-house battery recycling system
Photo: Volkswagen

With electric vehicles continuing to reshape the auto industry, ensuring that there will be enough batteries to power these new vehicles is a top priority. As such, a big part of the industry’s future will be finding ways to recycle reusable components from these batteries. Volkswagen has approached this challenge by kicking off an initiative to develop in-house battery recycling methods.


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VW’s in-house battery recycling initiative

As it turns out, there are plenty of materials that can be scavenged and reused from old electric car batteries. These include the plastics used in their casings, as well as various metals like copper, nickel, manganese, lithium, cobalt, graphite, and aluminum. If these materials could be harvested and used to create new batteries, millions of dollars’ worth of raw materials could be saved.

Volkswagen has had its eyes on an in-house battery recycling solution for over a decade. During the late 2000s, very few automakers were interested in developing recycling solutions. Volkswagen, on the other hand, began investing in the idea. This would eventually give the automaker an edge in the current rush to develop EV tech.

After years of research and hard work, VW has announced that a new pilot program for battery recycling is being launched at its Salzgitter factory. The program will use the high-tech LithoRec process to mechanically crush the battery modules and release a granulated form of their liquid electrolyte. After being passed through various sieves and magnetic belts, the resulting granulate is then separated back into its base components, including the aforementioned metals like aluminum and copper. These components can then be used to make new batteries with just as much functionality as those created with new materials.

“Our goal is to create our own circular process in which more than 90 percent of each of our batteries is recycled,” says Volkswagen Component’s head of technical planning Thomas Tiedje. “We don’t want to hand the process over at any point but prefer to train our employees and thus make them fit for the future.”


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The battery recycling pilot program currently aims to recover reusable materials from five batteries per shift. At that rate, VW will be able to recycle 3,600 batteries a year.