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Recycling electric vehicle batteries could be a reality in Brazil in a few years

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March 24, 2022

With an initial investment of over R$3 million, Tupy, BMW Group Brasil, and Senai Paraná aim to develop a project to recycle BMW vehicles’ lithium-ion battery cells.

To develop a more sustainable process that guarantees the recovery of chemical compounds from EV batteries reaching end-of-life, Tupy, BMW Group Brasil and Senai Paraná have gone into unprecedented partnership.

Each party will contribute specific knowledge to studies related to their area of operation. Within the Tupy Tech front, Tupy has applied its knowledge of materials and metallurgy to the development of technologies that contribute to the decarbonization journey of customers.

This project aims to develop battery recycling through hydrometallurgy, a process that is more sustainable than traditional pyrometallurgy – the most used currently. The technology involves less greenhouse gas emissions and a lower need to extract minerals through traditional mining methods.

Senai Paraná will run the project and be in charge of the activities and the respective delivery of results of the research, which will be conducted at the Senai Institute of Innovation in Electrochemistry (ISI-EQ), in the city of Curitiba (PR).

 

BMW Group Brazil, a pioneer in electromobility worldwide, will provide its technical expertise and the batteries from the BMW i3 electric vehicle for the development of the hydrometallurgy recycling process. In line with its global sustainability and circular economy strategy, the resynthesis of recycled materials, to produce new battery cells from the recycled material, is also one of the deliverables mapped with ISI-EQ.

 

With an investment of R$3.4 million, the project opens a new avenue for the use of recycled minerals in the manufacture of new batteries, which will significantly reduce reliance on primary mineral raw materials. The project will last 24 months, and we intend to evaluate the first results still this year. The objective is to resynthesize cathode active materials from batteries using fully recycled materials. The following parameters will be obtained: how efficient the entire process was; how pure recycled materials were; and economic and environmental indices.

 

“Chemical compounds are rare in nature and their reuse represents a major scientific and technological challenge for society. This alliance of Tupy with BMW Group Brasil and Senai is aligned with numerous global initiatives related to the electric vehicle value chain and, mostly, to the decarbonization journey, to which we have dedicated several research fronts”, says Fernando Cestari de Rizzo, the CEO of Tupy.

“As for the automotive sector, the development of the project to recycle lithium batteries and resynthesize cathode active materials will enable companies to obtain a fully national technology. The recycling and resynthesis of the material to be reused in the manufacture of new batteries for electric vehicles is the great innovation of this project and is in line with the vision of the circular economy of electric vehicles,” highlights Marcos Berton and Heverson Renan, researchers at the Senai Institute of Innovation in Electrochemistry.

 

“The BMW Group’s mission is to secure a sustainable future for mobility. We are developing several studies and projects for the second use of the battery of electric vehicles, such as the development of recharging station for electric vehicles totally disconnected from the power grid. The new partnership with Tupy and Senai is one step forward, since, in the future, it may enable the production of new batteries with reduced extraction of raw materials from the environment,” adds Vivaldo Chaves, Sustainability and Infrastructure Director of the BMW Group Brazil.

About Tupy

A Brazilian multinational company that develops and manufactures cast iron structural components with highly complex geometry and metallurgy. These engineering solutions are applied to the transportation, infrastructure, agribusiness, and power generation sectors, contributing to the quality of life of people, promoting access to health, basic sanitation, drinking water, and the production and distribution of food worldwide.

About Senai Institute of Innovation in Electrochemistry

The Senai Institute of Innovation in Electrochemistry was the first Senai Institute to be inaugurated in Brazil. It has a world-class lab infrastructure and a highly trained human resources department. The Institute is audited by Fraunhofer (Germany). It is an EMBRAPII unit and is accredited by the National Agency of Petroleum (ANP), and the Technology Information Committee (CATI). The Institute develops research projects applied to the industry and designs innovative products and processes, resulting in more competitiveness and sustainability for various industrial segments.

 

About BMW Group

From its four brands BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce, and BMW Motorrad, the BMW Group is the world’s leading manufacturer of premium automobiles and motorcycles and provides premium mobility and financial services. The BMW Group’s production network consists of 31 manufacturing and assembly facilities in 15 countries; the company has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

 

By 2021, the BMW Group sold more than 2.5 million utilities cars and more than 194,000 motorcycles worldwide. Income before tax in 2021 was 16.1 billion Euros with revenues of 111.2 billion Euros. On December 31, 2021, the BMW Group comprised a workforce of 118,909 employees.

 

BMW Group’s success has been based on long-term planning and responsible action. The company has defined the direction for the future at an early stage and consistently drives sustainability and efficient resource management core to its strategic direction, from the supply chain through manufacturing to the end of product use phase.

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