Kyburz Switzerland AG is the winner of the "Prix SVC Wirtschaftsraum Zürich 2022" awarded by the Swiss Venture Club. The company, based in Freienstein in the canton of Zurich, produces electric vehicles and is developing a recycling process for lithium-ion batteries in a project with researchers.
Kyburz, known among other things for its three-wheeled delivery vehicles for Swiss Post and now Switzerland’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, has joined forces with Empa in a project supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) to develop a recycling process that can be used to close the material cycle for lithium-ion batteries - making their use much more sustainable. With the new recycling process for lithium-ion batteries, active materials from the battery can be recovered almost completely and in their functional form - and can thus be used again for the production of new batteries. The fact that this works is demonstrated by a battery with partial use of recycled active material, developed jointly with the team of Empa researcher Corsin Battaglia, which was presented recently. "A milestone for electromobility," founder and CEO Martin Kyburz said in a media release. The Achilles’ heel of electromobility will thus disappear in the future, he said, because it proves that the active material of the cathodes can be reused several times.
A one-of-its-kind recycling system
Behind this is the company’s MultiLife concept, which aims to improve the eco-balance of its products: Instead of scrapping a vehicle at the end of its life, Kyburz takes it back, refurbishes it and puts it back on the market as a 2ndLife vehicle with a factory warranty. When this vehicle’s lifetime is also drawing to a close, the batteries begin their third life as stationary energy storage devices, for example for solar power systems. Only when this use is also exhausted are the batteries discarded and recycled.
For battery recycling, the company, together with a team led by Empa researcher Rolf Widmer, has developed a unique, environmentally friendly recycling system, for which it commissioned an innovative plant in 2020: "This allows us to recover 91 percent of the materials in a battery without using chemicals and return them to the material cycle," says Kyburz project manager Olivier Groux.
At the beginning of this year, the SFOE P&D project was launched, as well as the Innosuisse flagship project CircuBAT with seven Swiss research institutions and 24 companies. Its goal is to significantly improve the sustainability of batteries over their entire life cycle. One of the sub-projects is explicitly dedicated to extending Kyburz’s recycling process to other lithium-ion battery types. Kyburz was also one of the three finalists for the Green Business Award 2022, which was presented on 23 September, as part of the Swiss Sustainability Forum in Bern, and which honors leading solutions in the field of corporate sustainability.
On 20 September 2022, the "Prix SVC Wirtschaftsraum Zürich" was awarded for the eighth time at the Kongresshaus Zurich. From a good 100 companies in the region, the 17-member expert jury nominated five companies for the SME award - and chose Kyburz Switzerland AG as the winner. The sponsor and initiator of the Prix SVC, which are now awarded every two years in eight Swiss economic regions, is the Swiss Venture Club (SVC), an independent association for the promotion and support of SMEs in Switzerland.