basf rendering Schwarzheide
A rendering of the EV battery recycling plant BASF intends to build in Schwarzheide, Germany.
Image courtesy of BASF.

BASF makes battery recycling commitment

Company announces scrap batteries-to-black mass production facility to be built in Germany.

German-based chemical and materials company BASF has announced it will build what it calls a commercial scale battery recycling and black mass production plant in Schwarzheide, Germany.

The multinational company says the plant will have an annual processing capacity to handle 15,000 tons of electric vehicle (EV) batteries and battery production scrap.

“With this investment in a commercial scale battery recycling black mass plant, we take the next step to establish the full battery recycling value chain at BASF,” says Dr. Peter Schuhmacher, a BASF executive. “This allows us to optimize the end-to-end recycling process and reduce the CO2 footprint. The closed loop from end-of-life batteries to cathode active materials (CAM) for new batteries supports our customers along the entire battery value chain, reduces the dependency from mined raw materials and enables a circular economy.”

BASF describes battery recycling as “an important lever to reduce the CO2 footprint of battery electric vehicles, and is key to meet ambitious, circularity-driven policy requirements, expected under the proposed EU Battery Regulation.”

The investment will tie into the policy effort to improve the recycling efficiency of lithium-ion batteries, as well as material recovery and recycled content targets for nickel, cobalt and lithium.

“This investment strengthens BASF’s CAM production and recycling hub in Schwarzheide,” says BASF, which calls the site “an ideal location for the build-up of battery recycling activities given the presence of many EV car manufacturers and cell producers in Central Europe.”

BASF describes black mass production as the first step in the battery recycling process (following collection) and says it is based on mechanical treatment of batteries. The produced black mass contains marketable amounts of the metals used to produce CAM: lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese.

The black mass produced in Schwarzheide will serve as feedstock for a commercial hydrometallurgical refinery for battery recycling BASF says it plans to build toward the middle of this decade.