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July 30, 2020

BMW Group develops sustainable material cycle for battery cells

BMW Group says it has set a goal of creating a closed and sustainable material cycle for battery cells.

By Sam Duke

BMW Group says it has set a goal of creating a closed and sustainable material cycle for battery cells.

With a new pilot plant that will produce lithium ion battery cells, the company claims it is taking the next logical step in penetrating all aspects of the battery cell value chain: from selection of materials, to battery cell composition and design, all the way to near-standard production and recycling.

Production head Milan Nedeljkovic said: “The new pilot plant will strengthen our expertise in production of battery cells. We will be capable of testing new systems technology and innovative production processes. Our goal is to optimise near-standard production of battery cells from the perspective of quality, performance and costs. The new pilot plant will enable us to close the final gap in the value chain from battery cell development, to production of modules and powertrain components, all the way to installation of fully assembled high voltage batteries at our vehicle plants. This makes us the first car manufacturer to cover the entire process chain for electric driving.”

Development head Frank Weber added: “We are not just focused on the most efficient battery cell, but on its entire value chain. That is why we are working with our partners to create a closed material cycle for battery cells.”

The pilot plant will be built in Parsdorf, near Munich, and is scheduled to go into service in late 2022. The total project value is EUR110m and about 50 employees will work at the plant.

The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy is supporting the project within the framework of the European funding process IPCEI (Important Projects of Common European Interest).

Near-series production of battery cells

The company opened a separate Battery Cell Competence Centre in Munich in November 2019, covering the entire battery cell value chain, from research and development to battery cell composition and design, all the way to large scale manufacturing.

The BMW Group is taking the next logical step with the new pilot plant and further expanding its expertise.

A quarter of BMW Group vehicles sold in Europe should have an electric drive train by 2021; a third in 2025 and half in 2030.

The sustainable battery cell of the future will be recyclable

To develop innovative and sustainable battery cell technology, the group is working as part of a technology consortium with the Swedish battery manufacturer, Northvolt, and Umicore, a Belgian developer of battery materials. The collaboration is focused on creating an end-to-end sustainable value chain for battery cells in Europe, extending from development to production to recycling.

Northvolt will produce the battery cells at its own gigafactory currently under construction in Skelleftea in northern Sweden from 2024 on. Northvolt will obtain the energy needed to produce the battery cells exclusively from wind and hydroelectric power generated regionally in northern Sweden.

Umicore will contribute to development of a sustainable battery cell in Europe.

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