Audi and Umicore begin closed-loop to recycle cobalt and nickel from battery cells

January 17, 2020

Audi and Umicore begin closed-loop to recycle cobalt and nickel from battery cells
The Audi e-tron on display at the Paris Motor Show 2018 (Photo courtesy Matti Blume)

Audi AG, Ingolstadt, Germany, and Umicore, a global materials technology and recycling group headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, report that they have successfully completed the test phase of their strategic research cooperation for battery recycling. 

According to the companies, the result of their research is that more than 90% of the cobalt and nickel used in high-voltage batteries for the Audi e-tron* can now be recovered. Audi and Umicore report that they have now entered the next phase of their research cooperation strategy; a closed-loop for cobalt and nickel with the recovered materials being used in new battery cells. 

For this closed-loop pilot project, Umicore stated that it will receive cell modules from the Audi e-tron model, which will initially be taken from development vehicles. From those cells, the company will recover cobalt and nickel and process them into precursor and cathode materials. From these materials, new battery cells containing recycled cobalt and nickel can reportedly be produced. Since beginning the development of its first fully electric cars, Audi explained that it has worked on the recycling of the vehicle, and aims to apply resources efficiently.

“A closed-loop for battery raw materials is a big leap technologically. We save precious resources and reduce CO2 emissions,” stated Dr Bernd Martens, member of the Board of Management for Procurement and IT at Audi. “In this way, we come significantly closer to our goal of a sustainable supply chain and reach a milestone on the road to achieving an overall carbon-neutral balance by 2050. It is our aim to think of sustainability holistically. This includes dealing with the remaining ‘end of life’ as well as resource-saving development of our products.”

Marc Grynberg, CEO of Umicore, commented, “Umicore is committed to enabling the transition to electrified mobility. Innovative technologies, responsible sourcing and closing the materials loop will lead the drive towards clean mobility. This project with Audi is at the forefront of the development of a sustainable value chain for electrified transport.”

www.umicore.com

www.audi.com

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