ACCUREC-Recycling is today one of Europe’s leading battery recycling companies, a medium-sized, owner-managed company that has been successful in numerous research projects. In addition to innovative nickel-cadmium recycling, lithium recovery from rechargeable batteries for various applications is now also being launched. The success story was significantly supported by a close and fruitful research cooperation with the IME – Institute for Metallurgical Process Engineering and Metal Recycling at RWTH Aachen University.

On the occasion of the institute’s 125th anniversary, Dr. Reiner Sojka, Managing Partner of ACCUREC, emphasized in his laudatory speech: “Nickel and cadmium from batteries were the first metals that were the focus of our recycling cooperation in the 1990s. It was clear that nickel-cadmium batteries could not be recycled by simply shredding them. The first technological trials were laborious; small household batteries were heated in a large vacuum oven. The result was that the batteries were virtually cadmium-free, thus creating a valuable nickel-containing scrap substitute. It was unclear what happened to the cadmium, which was still in demand and expensive at the time. Prof. Dr. Joachim Krüger pointed out the law of conservation of mass to us and ultimately developed vacuum-metallurgical distillation together with us as young and inexperienced entrepreneurs. It took us three years to understand the process details, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics and to be able to switch to continuous, cost-effective operation of NI Cd recycling with version 3.0.”

Cooperation with research

Since the mid-2000s, cooperation has also intensified with the chair of Prof. Bernd Friedrich. In numerous publicly funded research projects, ACCUREC has built up and expanded its expertise in the multifaceted field of battery recycling. This is because the development of new battery technologies has not stood still during this time, with new battery systems coming onto the market every 5 years at the latest, for which a new, adapted recycling process route had to be identified. In addition to a few low blows, the results of the close
Cooperation between industry and the research community at RWTH is predominantly positive: numerous joint publications, outstanding theses and a dynamic, continuously growing company show that the cooperation is profitable for all parties involved. In 2017, the IME already succeeded in protecting the “Green Metallurgy” trademark throughout Europe. Metallurgical concepts and processes based on the idea of environmentally friendly, sustainable zero-waste and low-emission metallurgy,
are marked with this name. It is now also lived at ACCUREC!

Picture above: Accurec factory premises in Krefeld. Photo: Accurec

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