German carmaker Audi and partner Umicore are one step closer to a closed loop on EV batteries after successfully completing the first phase of a battery component recycling program.
Batteries are a major gap in the eco-friendly argument for electric vehicles, due to concerns of an e-waste crisis if governments and carmakers fail to come up with sustainable solutions.
Audi, which started the partnership with industrial materials group Umicore in June 2018, is looking to ensure valuable raw materials used in lithium-ion EV batteries – which also includes cobalt, nickel and copper – can be recovered for use in new batteries instead of being relegated to landfill.
Lab tests run by the carmaker indicate that up to 95 per cent of the elements used in battery components can be recycled, according to a statement by the company.
The focus is now on developing the technology by which end-of-life batteries for the Ingolstadt company ‘s new all-electric e-tron can be resurrected into new batteries, as well as reducing the emissions produced in doing so.
“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, Member of the Board of Management for Procurement and IT at AUDI AG.
Audi are also the first automaker to have been awarded a certificate from the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), for meeting sustainable standards for aluminium components of the Audi e-tron battery’s housing.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was fired recently as a result of his alleged role in the “Dieselgate” scandal which resulted in a settlement worth billions of dollars.
Rival automaker BMW is also working EV battery recycling with Umicore as well as battery manufacturer Northvolt.BMW wants to recover raw materials but not before repurposing battery cells to use in second-life “stationary energy storage devices” i.e. in households and grid based storage installations.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.