Audi is to begin taking cobalt and nickel from end-of-life batteries of its e-tron electric vehicle (EV) so partner Umicore can use the recovered materials in new battery cells.

The introduction of a closed-loop system starting in January follows more than a year of research by the companies. Tests showed that more than 90% of the cobalt and nickel in the high-voltage batteries could be recovered.

For what is a pilot project at present, Umicore of Belgium will receive cell modules from development e-tron EVs and process the recovered cobalt and nickel into precursor and cathode materials. New battery cells containing recycled cobalt and nickel can then be produced.

“A closed loop for battery raw materials is a big leap technologically,” said Bernd Martens, management board member for procurement and IT at Audi. “We save precious resources and reduce CO2 emissions. In this way we come significantly closer to our goal of a sustainable supply chain and reach a milestone on the road to achieving an overall carbon-neutral balance by 2050.”

Marc Grynberg, Umicore’s CEO, added: “Innovative technologies, responsible sourcing and closing the materials loop will lead the drive towards clean mobility. This project with Audi is at the forefront of the development of a sustainable value chain for electrified transport.”

The German OEM says since the beginning of its first fully electric cars it has worked on recycling vehicles, to use resources efficiently and aims to extend its recycling abilities in the future.