Laser technology for EV battery recycling

Trumpf says its new laser process speeds the separation of EV battery materials.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

June 25, 2024

2 Min Read
Trumpf lasers promise to separate the valuable materials from EV battery electrode foils for reuse.
Trumpf lasers promise to separate the valuable materials from EV battery electrode foils for reuse.Trumpf

It sounds like a Mike Myers Dr. Evil boast but Germany’s Trumpf says it can use lasers to zap apart the constituent materials in EV batteries, making recycling them at an industrial scale more practical. The laser cuts used batteries safely to remove the valuable raw materials from the battery foil.

The electrodes for battery cells are foil strips that are coated with critical materials such as cobalt and nickel. Lasers can blast off that coating from the foil and the collected dust is re-used for new foil coatings. Because of the difficulty of separating the coating from the foil, it is typical for coated foil to end up as waste in the garbage.  

Lasers could also be applied to recycling whole battery packs. Lasers can be used to remove the covers from batteries or to cut off cables. Recycling packs is a laborious manual process that lasers could help automate to provide greater scale of operation.

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

Related:Bolstering Battery Design, Recycling

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The European Union requires a recycling rate of up to 90 percent for batteries and the U.S. Department of Energy predicts that demand for EVs will increase the lithium battery market by five- to ten-fold by 2030.

“The industry therefore has to recycle on a large scale. The market for laser processes for recycling batteries, which is currently emerging, is huge,” says Alexander Sauer, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA. In Europe alone, the industry will have to recycle 570,000 tons of battery material a year by 2030. Maybe Dr. Evil’s laser will save the day by speeding the recycling of the material from retired batteries.

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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