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BASF expands battery recycling in Germany and the US

BASF lab technician Dr Stefan Schleich and chemist Dr Birgit Gerke testing car battery materials.

BASF is building a battery recycling prototype facility in Schwarzheide, Germany, at the site of its cathode active materials plant to optimise further the technology to deliver ‘superior returns’ of lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese from discarded lithium-ion batteries.

The extracted metals will be used to produce new cathode active materials, thereby strengthening the battery value chain. This project, which is mostly funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, will create about 35 production jobs and is due to start operations in early 2023.

BASF says battery recycling is an important long-term market requirement in the electric vehicle market to reduce its CO2 footprint as well as to meet stricter policy measures under the proposed EU Battery Regulation. These include recycling efficiencies and material recovery targets for nickel, cobalt and lithium.

‘With this investment in battery recycling, plus leading process technology for manufacturing of cathode active materials, we aim to close the loop while reducing the CO2 footprint of our cathode active materials by up to 60% in total compared to industry standards,’ says Dr. Matthias Dohrn, senior vice president, precious and base metal services at BASF. ‘This will enable us to meet the needs of our automotive customers – including original equipment manufacturers – and helps ensure a more sustainable future for us all.’

Meanwhile, the BASF Catalysts division, headquartered in Iselin, New Jersey, has acquired Zodiac Enterprises in Caldwell, Texas, which recycles precious metals from industrial scrap, primarily chemical catalysts. This deal will complement the company’s existing precious metal recycling operations in Seneca, South Carolina. It will also provide increased smelting capacity in North America. Additional personnel will be hired to expand the production capacity of the Texas site.

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