Battery recycling startup Cylib opens pilot plant

German recycling startup Cylib has made impressive strides towards industrialisation as it opens a pilot plant in Aachen less than a year after announcing the plans. The facility now recycles 500 kilos of battery materials a day and is the first phase of a much larger implementation.

The goal is to establish an industrial line with a recycling capacity of several thousand tons per year, and Cylib says planning was already underway. Looking at the startup’s current ability to move forward, this may as well happen.

Cylib first met the eyes of investors and the industry in October 2022 as a spin-off from the EV-savvy RWTH Aachen University. The company found seed investors for its “green battery recycling” fast and, in a second round in February 2023, had already asked for more capital to build the pilot plant. To do so in nine months since launch is also due to the fact that Cylib has developed the process and plans over several years with partners from different sectors and long before spinning off.

Current CEO Lilian Schwich, alongside CTO Paul Sabarny, were instrumental in setting up the battery recycling group at the IME of RWTH Aachen University. This institute deals with metallurgical process technology and metal recycling. The founders then became determined to industrialise the processes developed by the group.

As with previous announcements, the exact workings remain unknown. Cylib only speaks of a “disrupting process” that recovers all elements contained in batteries, such as cobalt, nickel and copper. The disrupting part is likely in the water-based recovery of lithium and graphite, which “drastically reduces the use of additives and acids,” according to Cylib.

The company also targets a recycling efficiency of over 90 per cent, using no chemicals and recycling the CO2 produced in the process.

“We successfully moved into our current recycling facility in January, built the necessary infrastructure, and became operational in less than nine months,” said CTO Paul Sabarny.

“Our current goal, in view of the huge societal and industrial need, is to expand our technology and capacity in the next step and pursue our mission to create the habitat for a sustainable society through circular raw materials,” said co-founder Lilian Schwich.

Regarding the construction of said industrial line, “we are already engaged in promising discussions with the city of Aachen and other potential sites,” added the CTO. “We plan to make a site decision for the next production line later this year.”

The Cylib pilot plant is in Aachen Rothe Erde, an industrial district with access to high-speed railway lines. Oliver Krischer, State Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Transport of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Sibylle Keupen, the Mayor of Aachen, attended the opening.


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