German powertrain supplier, Vitesco, is entering the battery recycling business through a collaboration with Swiss electric vehicle manufacturer and recycler, Kyburz. The pair have concluded a cooperation agreement to jointly industrialise LFP battery recycling using a direct recycling process developed by Kyburz. This collaboration will see the establishment of a new recycling facility at Vitesco’s Limbach-Oberfrohna site in Saxony, Germany.

The partnership

Within this cooperation, Kyburz will contribute its direct recycling technology, which it has been developing and demonstrating at its Liberty pilot plant since 2020. The partnership will leverage Vitesco’s process automation and production technology to industrialise the recycling technology.

LFP battery recycling within Europe

Although the capacity of the recycling plant and its commercialisation date have not been announced, the establishment of the LFP recycling facility will be significant for Europe. Currently, there are a handful of players in Europe offering LFP battery recycling, with ABEE being the most notable player. In 2023, it announced a 20,000 tonnes capacity LFP battery recycling facility with construction expected to start this year.

Despite NCM being the dominant battery chemistry in the region, the share of LFP batteries is expected to grow. Therefore, it is crucial for Europe to develop the capability to recycle LFP technology to support this emerging market segment, particularly in the context of the tight recycling regulations set out in the EU Battery Directive.

Rho’s evaluation, direct recycling

Direct recycling has been highlighted as an efficient recycling technology, though it does have certain limitations. Often, direct recycling only caters to specific battery sizes, as the process does not involve shredding, which limits the type of feedstock it can handle. Additionally, the purity of the final products isn’t as high as with other recycling methods currently.

However, the technology is easily adaptable to a range of chemistries, making it a versatile option despite its limitations. Moreover, it is a more environmentally friendly process as it does not require a wide range of chemicals or large-scale waste management.

To date, only a handful of companies have commercialised direct recycling technology, all of which are based in China. Outside China, only a few players are working on direct recycling, and all remain in the pilot or lab stages.

For more information about the recycling market see our Battery Recycling Quarterly Outlook.

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Image credit: Adobe Stock

Sources: Vitesco