Tozero opens pilot battery recycling plant

In Germany, the Munich-based startup Tozero, which specializes in recycling lithium-ion batteries, has put its first hydrometallurgical pilot plant into operation in Karlsfeld near Munich. Its construction was financed in part by a pre-seed round from last year.


According to Tozero, which was founded in mid-2022, the pilot plant features large-scale technical equipment and supports the startup’s proprietary hydrometallurgical recycling technology.

About a year ago, Tozero raised €3.5 million in its pre-seed round, which it said was primarily intended to finance the plant near Munich. The startup’s backers include former VW executive Jochem Heizmann. In Tozero promotional videos, a representative from MAN Truck and Bus speak highly of the startup.

At the end of July this year, Germany-based Bethmann Bank said, in their online publication Tenor (in German), “Although the start-up is just a year old, it reached a milestone a few weeks ago: according to the company, the process not only works in the lab, but the founders have already implemented their idea on a larger scale.”

Secret recovery processes

Tozero continues not to disclose details about its technology. In an emailed statement we received, it simply says the approach “enables the sustainable recovery of all critical battery materials such as lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt and manganese.”

Tozero will be doing what other battery recycling companies do: they work with companies that discharge the batteries and take apart the casing, shredding the content to form a black powder. This can be separated into recoverable critical materials mentioned above with the help of sieves, magnets and chemical processes. While the process of producing black mass is not new, Tozero has developed a novel chemical process of component separation that is attracting the attention of the nascent German and European battery industries.

Now, with the new pilot plant, Tozero says it can already meet the EU’s minimum lithium recovery rate requirements of 80 per cent from 2031. The kind of interest the startup is acquiring and what other recyclers are aiming at would suggest their secret chemical process can do far more.


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