Mecaware, a groundbreaking startup based in Lyon, France, has recently secured €40 million in investments to propel its innovative battery recycling approach, which revolves around utilizing carbon dioxide (CO₂) for the extraction of critical metals. With the global thrust towards sustainable practices and eco-friendly technologies, Mecaware’s method is not only seen as environmentally friendly and cost-efficient but also uniquely unparalleled on the global stage.
Originating from research conducted at the University of Lyon, Mecaware’s inception in 2020 marked the commencement of a promising journey into the world of recycling. Specifically, they focus on recycling both retired batteries and the production waste that emanates from battery manufacturing facilities. Their novel technology employs a CO₂-based chemical procedure, which facilitates the segregation of various metals found within battery cells. This then paves the way for these metals to be efficiently recovered, rejuvenated, and reintroduced into the production cycle.
Thanks to the financial boost from an ensemble of investors, which includes the French government and several banking partners, Mecaware is poised to accelerate the development of their pilot project, aptly titled “Gigafactories Scrap – ScrapCO2MET.” This initiative is projected to produce an impressive 50 tonnes of recycled metals annually, emphasizing crucial elements like lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt.
A pivotal component of this ambitious project is the imminent establishment of Mecaware’s new Technical Centre in Lyon. This expansive facility will encompass administrative offices, a manufacturing section, and a cutting-edge research and development lab. With its doors set to open in 2025, Mecaware also envisions a substantial expansion of its workforce, aiming to double its team to 80 members by 2024.
In a world grappling with sustainability challenges, Mecaware’s focus on resource circularity is timely. Battery gigafactories, while essential for e-mobility, produce a sizable amount of waste, with scrap rates exceeding 30%. This scenario is further accentuated by Europe’s intent to establish over 40 such factories by 2030. Moreover, as the decade concludes, it’s anticipated that a staggering 12 million tonnes of batteries from battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) will be ready for retirement on a global scale.
The potential for recycling vital metals like lithium and cobalt presents an invaluable opportunity for Europe. By harnessing these recycled resources, the European Union (EU) can significantly reduce its reliance on external providers, notably from countries like China and Chile. The European Commission’s projections indicate that to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 — focusing solely on e-mobility and renewable energy sectors — the EU would necessitate 60 times its current lithium consumption and a 15-fold increase in cobalt.
Arnaud Villers d’ Arbouet, Mecaware’s co-founder and CEO, passionately remarked on the company’s vision: “Our approach provides a reliable source of raw materials, enhancing the strategic autonomy of our regions and strengthening the energy transition, all while strictly adhering to EU regulations. Our tech solution rectifies the challenges posed by conventional recycling methods.”