Journal of Business Economics

, Volume 85, Issue 5, pp 505–544 | Cite as

Technology and capacity planning for the recycling of lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries in Germany

  • Claas HoyerEmail author
  • Karsten Kieckhäfer
  • Thomas S. Spengler
Research Article


Currently, the German government strives for establishing Germany as a lead market for electric mobility. A successful growth of the electric vehicle market would be followed by a corresponding volume of spent lithium-ion batteries containing valuable and scarce metals. With their recycling, the high environmental load and energy use of primary production could be reduced, import dependencies could be diminished, and economic value could be created. Pioneering the mandatory deployment of an appropriate recycling network in Germany, the aim of this paper is to determine investment plans for the installation of recycling plants of different technologies and capacities and to derive recommendations for potential investors. For this purpose, a mathematical optimisation model is developed, allowing the economic selection of recycling technologies and capacities to be deployed in the network over time. In a comprehensive study, the impact of uncertain developments and mandatory minimum recycling rates on the timing of plant installations, on technology and capacity selection, on material flows, and on the profitability of recycling are analysed. The main finding is that despite the prevailing uncertainties a robust plan exists at least for initial decisions. It is shown that the recycling network can be operated highly economically in four out of five scenarios while meeting mandatory minimum recycling rates easily. By contrast, achieving both profitability and the minimum recycling rates will be a challenge if less valuable metals are used in the production of batteries, requiring the development of additional recycling steps to both reduce waste and increase profitability.


Strategic network design Reverse logistics Recycling Lithium-ion batteries 

JEL Classification

M11 K32 C61 



We would like to acknowledge the support of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, funding the research projects LithoRec (16EM0023) and LithoRec II (16EM1024). We further greatly appreciate our industrial and scientific project partners for their valuable co-operation and assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claas Hoyer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Karsten Kieckhäfer
    • 1
  • Thomas S. Spengler
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Automotive Management and Industrial ProductionTechnische Universität BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany

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