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New power from old cells: Audi and Umicore develop closed loop battery recycling

  • Car manufacturer and materials technology and recycling group test a closed loop for high-voltage car batteries
  • 95 percent of valuable battery materials can be recycled
  • The partners are developing a raw materials bank concept for these recovered raw materials
Audi and Umicore develop closed loop battery recycling.

Milestone reached: Audi and Umicore have successfully completed phase one of their strategic research cooperation for battery recycling. The two partners are developing a closed loop for components of high-voltage batteries that can be used again and again. Particularly valuable materials are set to become available in a raw materials bank.

Already before the start of the cooperation with Umicore in June 2018, Audi had analyzed the batteries in the A3 e-tron* plug-in hybrid car and defined ways of recycling. Together with the material technology experts, the car manufacturer then determined the possible recycling rates for battery components such as cobalt, nickel and copper. The result: In laboratory tests, more than 95 percent of these elements can be recovered and reused.

The partners are now developing specific recycling concepts. The focus is on the so-called closed-loop approach. In such a closed cycle, valuable elements from batteries flow into new products at the end of their lifecycle and are thus reused. The Ingolstadt-based company is now applying this approach to the high-voltage batteries in the 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. Security of supply and shorter delivery cycles are 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, Member of the Board of Management for Procurement and IT at AUDI AG.

For Audi, battery recycling is a key element of sustainable electric mobility. From the extraction of raw materials to the CO2-neutral e-tron** plant in Brussels to the recycling of components, the premium brand is committed to environmentally compatible concepts along its entire value chain


Fuel consumption of the models named:

*Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
Fuel consumption combined in l/100 km: 1.8 – 1.6*
Electricity consumption combined in kWh/100 km: 12.0 – 11.4*
CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 40 – 36*

**Audi e-tron
The vehicle has not yet gone on sale in Germany

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures given in ranges depend on the tires/wheels used