Audi and Umicore have completed phase one of their research cooperation for battery recycling.

The two partners are developing a closed loop for components of high-voltage batteries which can be re-used. Particularly valuable materials will become available in a raw materials bank.

Before the start of the cooperation with Umicore in June this year, Audi analysed the batteries in the A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid car and defined ways of recycling. Together with material technology experts, the car manufacturer then determined the possible recycling rates for battery components such as cobalt, nickel and copper. The result was in in laboratory tests, more than 95% of these elements could be recovered and reused.

Both partners are now developing specific recycling concepts with the focus on the so-called closed-loop approach. In such a closed cycle, 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,” said Audi member of the board of management for Procurement and IT, Bernd Martens.

“This is also an element of our programme to reduce CO2 emissions in procurement.”