Enabling industrial-scale battery recycling

Engineer Live News Desk
A TRUMPF employee explains where the battery will be cut open by the laser

TRUMPF is enabling car and battery manufacturers to recycle used or defective batteries from electric vehicles (EVs) on an industrial scale for the first time with its laser technology. The company has unveiled efficient laser systems capable of cutting used batteries safely and remove valuable raw materials from the battery foil.

Without valuable raw materials such as cobalt, lithium or nickel, EV batteries in their current form cannot be made. However, the extraction of these raw materials is expensive and not always sustainable. Manufacturers also have to accept long and uncertain supply chains. In addition, the EU requires a recycling rate of up to 90 percent for batteries.

“Recycling batteries makes ecological sense and, thanks to laser technology, can now also be implemented economically,” said Hagen Zimer, CEO of Laser Technology at TRUMPF. “TRUMPF can draw on extensive expertise in laser welding and cutting for the production of EV batteries. We have been working with all leading car and battery manufacturers for years. We have incorporated this experience into the development of the new processes.

Ensuring high recycling rates

The electrodes for new battery cells are created as foil strips coated with valuable materials such as cobalt and nickel. In a future recycling plant, laser processes can remove the wafer-thin layer from the foil. Manufacturers can collect the precious dust and process it for new coatings. Until now, it was not uncommon for kilometres of coated foils to end up as waste.

In the future, laser technology could also be used to recycle battery packs. According to TRUMPF, laser technology is the only way to ensure efficient and automated dismantling, for example to remove the covers from batteries or to cut off cables. The raw materials can then be sorted and the battery cells that are still usable can be separated and reused directly. Until now, dismantling electric car batteries has been a manual process. It is laborious, slow and sometimes dangerous for workers.

The company presented its new laser processes for the first time in June at Battery Show Europe 2024 in Stuttgart.

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