Joint declaration of intent for the establishment of a battery-recycling center for Li-ion batteries in the Harz region
A number of companies and research institutions from South-East Lower Saxony are, within a joint consortium, pooling their expertise along the battery-recycling chain and thereby driving forward the circular economy in Lower Saxony.
The recycling of batteries from the automotive industry as well as production waste from cell manufacture can provide a significant contribution towards ensuring that products are designed, used and – to the greatest possible extent – recycled in a way that is compatible with the closed-loop system. This is extremely important in view of the stipulations planned by the European Union regarding recycling and utilization quotas for battery raw materials.
Within the framework of a joint recycling center for Li-ion batteries, a consortium comprised of six companies from the South-East Lower Saxony region – in particular, the Harz region – has, in collaboration with the regional research institutions, set itself the goal of strengthening the position of Lower Saxony as a business location against national and international competition by means of climate-neutral and circular value creation. The entire project is a building block for the further development of the Circular Region in South-East Lower Saxony – to date, the first and only Circular Region in the whole of Germany to be funded by the EU.
Today, at the Helmkehof premises in Hanover in the presence of the Minister of Economic Affairs, Olaf Lies, the consortium consisting of LB.systems GmbH, Battery Damage Service GmbH, H.C. Starck Tungsten GmbH, Electrocycling GmbH, Albemarle Germany GmbH and IVH Industriepark und Verwertungszentrum Harz GmbH signed the declaration of intent as the foundation stone for a successful cooperation. The consortium, including the research institutions, sees itself primarily as a competence network that configures the production cycle: from the collection of batteries and production waste, through dismantling and mechanical, thermal and hydrometallurgical processing, and on to the synthesis of new battery raw materials. The processes will be researched, evaluated and optimized from technical, economic and social perspectives. The planned recycling center combines the initiative of the participating companies and serves as a forum for all activities.
Olaf Lies, Minister of Economic Affairs: “The signing of the letter of intent for the establishment of a recycling center for Li-ion batteries is a great success - but not only for Lower Saxony as a business location, for which the project naturally represents a not inconsiderable gain. It is also a decisive step in the right direction for value creation in the Harz region and for environmental protection: We must use resources sustainably and for the long term. One relevant building block for this is the joint establishment of a functioning circular economy in Lower Saxony.”
The impetus for the successful transfer of knowledge and technology came from the Automotive Agentur Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony automotive agency), which acts as an element of the transformation support commissioned by the Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Verkehr, Bauen und Digitalisierung (Lower Saxony ministry of economics, transport, construction and digitalization). In collaboration with the Recycling-Cluster wirtschaftsstrategische Metalle (REWIMET e. V.) and with the support of renowned research institutes and universities, such as the TU Braunschweig, the TU Clausthal and the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films (Fraunhofer IST), the agency initiated the process with a focus on battery recycling in March 2022.
The consortium has drawn up an ambitious milestone and measures plan: Between 2024 and 2030, industrial-scale plants are to be built that can recycle both waste from battery cell production and the returning spent batteries. “We benefit here from the fact that the companies are contributing to the overall project with their existing expertise in a collaboratively organized manner. In addition, they have the scientific support of the technical universities in Braunschweig and Clausthal, as well as the Fraunhofer IST,” explained Dr. Dirk Schöps, Cluster Manager at REWIMET e. V.
During a series of workshops organized by REWIMET e. V. and moderated by the Fraunhofer IST, the desire to implement a continuous process chain for battery recycling in Lower Saxony emerged. The Automotive Agentur Niedersachsen accompanied the process through to the signing of the declaration of intent.