Bernd Friedrich, born in 1958, studied metallurgy and electrometallurgy at the RWTH Aachen University, where he graduated in 1988. After he held leading appointments at GfE Nuremberg and Vatra Battery AG, he returned to the RWTH University to become ordinary professor and head of Institute of Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling (IME). The growing interest in battery recycling from public, governmental and industrial officials has led the IME Aachen in intensifying their focus on this subject. Since 2000 the battery recycling research was pushed by the IME in connection with industry related projects. The target, set by the IME, is to develop optimal, industrial friendly recycling processes for every known battery type. In connection with this the institute has already developed processes to recycle lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel- metal hydride, primarily portable, Li- ion portable and Li traction batteries. A few of these projects have already been concluded and have been marked as BAT (best available technology). The IME was therefore rewarded the “Kaiserpfalzpreis”, a prize which is given by the GDMB, the German society for metallurgists and miners.
To meet the legal requirements for exploitation and recycling efficiency the IME institute, in cooperation with industrial partners, has developed a multifunctional recycling process for Li Ion batteries, which combines hydro- and pyrometallurgical processes. Thereby the recycling has to meet the ecological and economical standards. The Li ion batteries used in the electro mobility need different recycling approaches than other Li ion portable batteries. This is because of their size, their weight and their variable structural shape which results in a higher risk accumulation with much more electronic components. Also a separate recovery is necessary. The joint project ‘EcoBatRec’ is based upon this need for action. The project is supported by the federal ministry for environment, nature conservation, building and nuclear safety. The main objective of the project ‘EcoBatRec’ is the development and testing of economical technologies to recycle Li ion batteries from the electro mobility sector. Thereby the process as such is examined, beginning with the characterization of the batteries, the dismantling, the mechanical comminuting with the classification of certain material fractions, and culminating in developing a ways to recycle Lithium. The aim is to develop a cost effective recycling process with a maximized recovery of the intrinsic valued battery components.
Another target is the compilation of a life cycle assessment, which will show the ecological advantages of recycling to the exploitation of primary resources. To solve the problem between an ecological and economical recycling, so the usage of less harmful materials with at the same time maximization of the recovery of the valuable components is the core task of ‘EcoBatRec’.