BMW: a closed-cycle process for the production of batteries is born in China

Focused as it is on the ecological transition, BMW intensifies its commitment to reduce its impact on the planet with the aim of achieving complete climate neutrality. With this in mind, in Chinawith the joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA)has created a closed loop for the reuse of the raw materials of the batteries: nickel, lithium and cobalt are thus extracted from accumulators no longer suitable for use on electric cars and re-enter the production processes following the logic of the circular economy. To this end, BBA collaborates with a local company that dismantles discarded batteries and uses innovative technology to recover a high percentage of metals and minerals.

The raw materials thus obtained are then used in the production of new battery cells for the German group. The closed cycle of materials conserves resources and, at the same time, reduces CO2 emissions by 70%compared to the use of newly extracted raw materials. Jochen Gollerhead of BMW’s China Region, said: “In light of the growing scarcity of limited resources and rising commodity prices, it is particularly important to advance the circular economy, increase the percentage of reusable materials and reduce our dependence on raw materials.

BMW Group will expand recycling business in China in the future, which will not only contribute to environmental protection, but also effectively support China’s transition to a low-carbon economy.“.

A CERTIFIED SYSTEM



Current Chinese policies require the creation of a battery traceability system high voltage to ensure that batteries can be tracked and recycled once collected. BMW has developed a system for this, with coding that allows for continuous traceability of the batteries throughout their life cycle. The coding ensures that batteries across the entire value chain, from initial test vehicles to off-the-shelf vehicles, can be recycled accurately and certified. Once returned, the batteries are evaluated for their potential use.

BMW has started using the batteries at the end of their life with high residual capacity in forklifts at BBA factories in China as early as 2020. The plan calls for these “second life applications” for batteries to be expanded, in the future, to include pallet forklifts and storage units. stationary energy to be used also to recharge electric cars. If the end-of-life batteries do not meet the criteria for second use, they are recycled instead. The nickel, lithium and cobalt obtained in this way, they are channeled into the production of new battery cells for BMW.


The benefits of exploiting new resources are evident, especially considering that a battery with a capacity of 100 kWh contains, on average, almost 90 kg of nickel, lithium and cobalt. In particular, with an increasing percentage of battery electric vehicles, the need for numerous raw materials will increase, including its own cobalt, nickel, lithium, aluminum and more. For this reason, battery recycling is playing a fundamental role in creating a sustainable value chain. It should be remembered that BMW already uses “recycled” nickel in the high-voltage batteries of the BMW iX today.


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