Battery recycling: Audi and Umicore start closed loop for cobalt and nickel

Sustainable battery recycling: Audi and Umicore have successfully completed the test phase of their strategic research cooperation. The result is that more than 90 per cent of the cobalt and nickel in the high-voltage batteries of the Audi e-tron* can be recovered.

The car manufacturer and the materials technology and recycling expert are therefore now entering the next phase. As of January, the partners will cooperate on a closed loop for cobalt and nickel. The recovered materials will be used in new battery cells.

For this closed-loop pilot project, Umicore will receive cell modules from the Audi e-tron model, which will initially be taken from development vehicles. From those cells, the materials technology expert will recover cobalt and nickel, and process them into precursor and cathode materials. From this, new battery cells containing recycled cobalt and nickel can be produced. Since the beginning of development of its first fully electric cars, Audi has worked on the recycling of the vehicle. The company aims to apply resources efficiently and purposely pursues this idea in all directions. In the future, further recycling skills are to be developed.

“A closed loop for battery raw materials is a big leap technologically. We save precious resources and reduce CO2emissions. 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,” says Dr. Bernd Martens, member of the board of management for Procurement and IT at Audi. “It is our aim to think sustainability holistically. This includes dealing with the remaining ‘end of life’ as well as resource-saving development of our products.”

Furthermore, Marc Grynberg, CEO of Umicore added: “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.”

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