BASF strikes French alliance to recycle electric car batteries

Martin Brudermueller, CEO of German chemical giant BASF

German chemical giant BASF announced Wednesday plans with French companies Eramet and Suez to recycle lithium-ion batteries from electric cars, aiming to secure a leading role in a growing market.

Backed by 4.7 million euros ($5.2 million) of EU funding, "the objective is to develop an innovative closed-loop process to recycle lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles and to enable the production of new lithium-ion batteries in Europe," BASF said in a statement.

The three firms will begin "large-scale development" in January 2020 on the project, known as "ReLieVe" (Recycling Li-ion batteries for electric Vehicle).

It "responds to the European Commission's appeal to unite European players to position (themselves) in the fast-growing lithium-ion battery market," said Laurent Joncourt, chairman of mining and metallurgy firm Eramet's research and development unit.

"Around 50,000 tonnes of batteries are expected to be recycled by 2027 in Europe and it could be multiplied almost tenfold by 2035," predicted Jean-Marc Boursier, chief operating officer of water and waste treatment company Suez.

The project will string together the three firms' know-how in the recycling process, with Suez gathering and dismantling used batteries, Eramet recycling the components and BASF producing new cathode materials.

Car industry representatives and university researchers from France and Norway will also advise the project.