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Mercedes-Benz to source recycling tech from Primobius

Mercedes-Benz has signed an MOU with Primobius to use the recycling company's technology for its planned recycling facility in Kuppenheim, Germany. Pre-processing is set to begin in 2023.

Mercedes-Benz which last year announced its ambition to start to recycle batteries through its subsidiary LICULAR GmbH, has signed an MOU with Primobius, the JV between Neometals and SMS Group. Primobius will contribute with the necessary technological know-how, including the relevant preliminary investigations, to the project. Scientific support for the project is to be provided by the renowned research institutes of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Technical Universities of Clausthal and Berlin.

Construction of the plant will take place in in two stages. A pre-processing unit for dismantling of packs and disintegration of cells will be commissioned in 2023. The capacity will be 2,500 tonnes per year. A second, hydrometallurgical step is still subject to funding from public institutions for which the company is in discussion with the Battery Innovation Support Program of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection.

According to the announcement Mercedes-Benz is looking to set up similar units in China and the US with partners. Mercedes has a manufacturing plant in Alabama close to Li-Cycle's planned pre-processing plant.

The feedstock in Kuppenheim will primarily be R&D batteries and packs from test vehicles. Mercedes-Benz is however one of the few OEMs which has a tight control over previous end-of-life flows through its subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Energy which utilises EOL batteries for energy storage solutions. Eventually these batteries could be an important source of material for the company.

Primobius is itself in a testing phase after having commissioned its first pre-processing plant in Germany in 2021 and on its way to commission its first hydrometallurgical pilot plant. Will the MOU be turned into an inked deal it will be the second licensing deal for Primobius which previously sold its technology to the Canadian steel company Stelco which is setting up plant in Ontario, Canada.

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