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Waste Manag Res. 2018 Apr;36(4):311-320. doi: 10.1177/0734242X18759191. Epub 2018 Mar 4.

Electric vehicle recycling 2020: Key component power electronics.

Author information

1 Resources & Transport Division, Öko-Institut e.V., Darmstadt, Germany.
2 Electrocycling GmbH, Goslar, Germany.
3 Department of Mineral and Waste Processing, Institute of Mineral and Waste Processing, Waste Disposal and Geomechanics, Clausthal University of Technology, Germany.
4 Research & Development Division, Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg, Germany.
5 PPM Pure Metals GmbH, Langelsheim, Germany.


Electromobility will play a key role in order to reach the specified ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in the German transport sector of 42% between 1990 and 2030. Subsequently, a significant rise in the sale of electric vehicles (EVs) is to be anticipated in future. The amount of EVs to be recycled will rise correspondingly after a delay. This includes the recyclable power electronics modules which are incorporated in every EV as an important component for energy management. Current recycling methods using car shredders and subsequent post shredder technologies show high recycling rates for the bulk metals but are still associated with high losses of precious and strategic metals such as gold, silver, platinum, palladium and tantalum. For this reason, the project 'Electric vehicle recycling 2020 - key component power electronics' developed an optimised recycling route for recycling power electronics modules from EVs which is also practicable in series production and can be implemented using standardised technology. This 'WEEE recycling route' involves the disassembly of the power electronics from the vehicle and a subsequent recycling in an electronic end-of-life equipment recycling plant. The developed recycling process is economical under the current conditions and raw material prices, even though it involves considerably higher costs than recycling using the car shredder. The life cycle assessment shows basically good results, both for the traditional car shredder route and the developed WEEE recycling route: the latter provides additional benefits from some higher recovery rates and corresponding credits.


PCB disassembly; Power electronics; car shredder; dismantling; electric vehicles; end-of-life vehicles; life cycle assessment; mechanical processing; recycling

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