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Germany’s cylib announces €11.6M seed round to recycle EV batteries and reduce carbon emissions


cylib, the battery recycling startup from Germany has just raised €8 million in a seed extension round, led by World Fund, Europe’s climate tech VC. The entrepreneurial European VC, 10x Founders, backed by a venture network of 200 founders, participated as a co-investor. Existing investors VSquared Ventures and Speedinvest also joined, along with business angels Kai Hansen and Karim Jalbout, to bring the total seed round amount raised to €11.6m. 

Last year, it secured €3.6 million in funding led by Speedinvest alongside Vsquared.

With Aachen-based cylib, it is now possible to recycle lithium traction batteries, such as those used in electric vehicles (EVs). With a recycling efficiency of 90%, the startup recovers raw materials during the recycling process. As a result, the carbon footprint of the entire battery value chain is drastically reduced, as is the need to mine additional raw materials, making the electric mobility industry more sustainable. Founded as a spin-off of RWTH Aachen University by Lilian Schwich, Paul Sabarny, Dr. Ing. Gideon Schwich, cylib’s proprietary technology is now patent pending.

Lilian Schwich, CEO and co-founder of cylib, said: “Since I was a student I considered recycling a powerful tool to reduce the significant environmental impact caused by raw material extraction. Our process recovers all raw materials, including valuable elements such as lithium, cobalt as well as graphite, which are simply disposed of in other processes.”

E-mobility’s missing piece

Electric vehicles cannot switch dependence on another scarce resource in order to be a plausible alternative to fossil fuel-emitting vehicles. In addition to reducing raw material depletion and cost, lithium battery recycling can also reduce emissions associated with lithium-ion cell production. However, conventional battery recycling methods fall far short of meeting EV demand due to insufficient recycling efficiency. For lithium and graphite recovery, cylib uses a water-based process that significantly reduces the need for additives and acids.

The potential market for cylib’s battery recycling technology is enormous, given the need to electrify all forms of transportation by 2050. In order to keep up with demand for EVs, Fraunhofer ISI estimates that Europe will require approximately 420,000 tonnes of EV/mobility battery recycling by 2030, and 2.1 million tonnes by 2040. By 2021, personal ownership of EVs will have increased 19% in Europe alone, as uptake continues to grow exponentially.  

Craig Douglas, Partner at World Fund, said: “Society is slowly weaning itself off dependence on petroleum-based cars and motor vehicles and the industry is transitioning to electric modes of transport. But, if we don’t find a solution to sustainable battery recycling, we could squander the climate gains that EVs offer. cylib’s technology is the missing piece of the puzzle and their technology will deliver real climate gains, by enabling the sustainable recycling of batteries and by cutting down on the damaging mining of primary materials.”

World Fund only backs entrepreneurs building climate tech solutions that have the potential to save at least 100 megatonnes of CO2 every year, which it believes cylib can achieve thanks to this technology.

New European regulation set to tighten battery recycling

In 2024, a number of new EU regulations are expected to come into force, which will tighten the obligation of electric vehicle manufacturers and resellers to recycle batteries at the end of their natural lifespan. These upcoming laws will require a huge expansion of the market and technological innovation in the battery recycling vertical, of which cylib is poised to take significant market share.

cylib’s current customers include electric vehicle makers, battery manufacturers, and raw materials processors in the business of acquiring reprocessed raw materials.

cylib co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Paul Sabarny, said: “cylib’s technology, which was spun out of the prestigious RWTH Aachen University, has been honed and refined to ensure that the raw materials we recover in the battery recycling and redeployment process are as high quality as feasibly possible. This ensures the climate effect of our offering, whilst also providing compelling efficiency metrics and ROI for the numerous EV manufacturers who’ve already placed their confidence in cylib’s proprietary technology”.

cylib co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Gideon Schwich, said: “The upcoming changes of EU regulations on battery recycling will be pivotal, if we are truly to seize the decarbonising potential of switching away from fossil fuel emitting vehicles, transitioning en masse to EVs. Only if all raw materials used in batteries for EVs are able to be safely and sustainably recycled will we establish a true circular economy, powering the mobility of tomorrow”.

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