Just a year after its founding, Joint Venture Primobius, between the Australian Neometals company and the German SMS group, is showcasing its concept for the industrial recycling of lithium-ion batteries. The company has built its first fully functional demonstration plant in Hilchenbach, Germany. Doing so, the company is fostering the enormous opportunities for growth that Europe offers for initial operations. This is kicking the sustainable circular economy into high gear.
Energy-efficient and circular recovery
As increasingly more people are buying electric vehicles and mobile devices, the manufacturers’ needs for materials such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, or copper for battery production become more urgent. Added to this is the fact that many raw materials are prospected under ethically questionable conditions. Recycling, on the other hand, utilizes scrap and end-of life batteries. Thus it is taking advantage of a reliable, domestic source of valuable materials. Due to this need, Primobius is effectively implementing a concept for energy-efficient and circular recovery. In the first step, the system shreds used batteries of various sizes and types, separates out the plastic and metal parts, and thus separates the so-called “black mass”.
Large volumes of material can be mechanically shredded on-site in smaller “spoke systems”. Central “hub systems” can be used to recycle the “black mass”. The mechanical and hydrometallurgical processes cause comparatively low CO2 emissions. They enable purchasers of recovered materials to battery recycling without limits. Doing so, they reduce their environmental footprints. They come out on top with high recovery percentages for the sought-after material lithium.
“We did not invent battery recycling, but we are part of the vanguard using energy-efficient and sustainable processes to improve recovery rates and help supply chain partners to decarbonize. One of the key Primobius points of difference is that it is commercializing on a large scale and, uniquely, is able to offer a very flexible concept,” says Prof. Dr. Hans Ferkel, CTO of SMS group and member of the Primobius Advisory Board.