In view of the growing numbers of electrified vehicles, establishing a broad basis for procuring battery cells is becoming a matter of greater strategic significance for manufacturers. With Northvolt as a partner focused on sustainable production and the BMW Group in its capacity as a carmaker that is already developing its own battery cells today, this can be achieved to great effect. Because battery cells contain essential resources and materials, feeding these back into the loop becomes more and more important as electric vehicles multiply in number. As Umicore is active in the development and production of materials for battery cells and resource recycling and BMW boasts expertise in material and cell design, there are high hopes for some major achievements in this area too.
In order to accelerate the development of battery cells and make further progress in terms of cell chemistry and cell design, BMW ’s new battery cell centre of excellence will be inaugurated in summer 2019. Besides battery cell development, other key skills will be pooled there too, from the production of battery cell prototypes to build-to-print expertise. This is important for the carmanufacturer as a way of endowing potential suppliers for cell production with the necessary skills to meet its own requirements. The BMW Group is already investing heavily in the entire value chain today and, by so doing, is blazing a trail when it comes to sustainability. Consequently, ensuring that raw materials come from environmentally and socially responsible sources, obliging cell suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint, using recycled materials, and creating battery concepts that can be serviced and easily recycled are already high priorities for the BMW Group, which intends to continue strengthening its capabilities and expanding its activities in this area.
Materials development and recycling
Umicore is the partner responsible for active anode and cathode materials development and recycling in the technology alliance. This collaboration will enable innovative and highly efficient production technologies to be applied to the production of active materials based on recycled metals. In addition, this project covers smart battery pack disassembly, screening for reutilisation of the battery cells and feeding the recycled resources back into active material production. As electric mobility continues to expand, growing needs will not be limited to sustainable extraction of raw materials – recovering materials that have already been used will also become increasingly important in easing the burden on raw material production.
The company has recently announced it will soon start building a cathode material manufacturing facility in Europe and already runs a recycling plant for lithium-ion batteries in Europe.