(L-R) FEDIL President, Georges Rassel; CEO Antoine Welter; CTO Dr Xavier Kohll; Luxembourg’s Minister of the Economy, Lex Delles; Credit: Otilia Dragan/Chronicle.lu

On the afternoon of Friday 21 June 2024, Circu Li-on, a European battery upcycling company created by two Luxembourgers, held the official opening event of its facility The Circular in Foetz.

The startup aims to revolutionise the battery value chain for electric vehicles, micromobility, power tools, energy storage systems and recycling, with a mission to save money and the planet.

Circu Li-on's automated battery upcycling process dismantles, disassembles and diagnoses battery packs based on each cell's state of health. This method aims to reveal the true potential of each battery and it significantly reduces CO2 emissions (by 48%, according to a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conforming to ISO 14044 standards). The company’s process aims to ensure that batteries are either reused or recycled efficiently, thereby contributing to a circular economy.

The launch event highlighted the company’s growth from humble beginnings, starting with just two employees and now boasting a team of 44, representing fifteen nationalities. With two facilities, one in Luxembourg and one in Germany, Circu Li-on currently serves 25 customers, although none from Luxembourg yet. The company is led by CTO Dr Xavier Kohll, who emphasised the importance of automation in scaling up battery disassembly, a process traditionally done manually and fraught with safety risks, and CEO Antoine Welter.

Cutting-Edge Robotics and AI

During the event, attendees witnessed the capabilities of Circu Li-on's advanced robotics. The robots, equipped with AI and cameras ensuring computer vision and automated detection, can safely and efficiently disassemble batteries, reducing a tedious process that would take skilled workers 300 minutes to less than an hour. This automated system aims to ensure a scalable, safe and cost-effective solution for battery upcycling. The robotic control system allows real-time control. Nevertheless, the operation functions in a hybrid version at the moment: it requires human interaction, whereby a trained professional checks the work done before the robot continues.

Luxembourg’s Minister of the Economy, Lex Delles, who attended the event, praised Circu Li-on's alignment with Luxembourg’s strategy for industry and circular economy. The minister highlighted the company's potential to sell its innovative solutions globally. FEDIL President, Georges Rassel, also commended Circu Li-on as an exemplary model of entrepreneurship, circularity and digitalisation, emphasising the importance of creating safe, productive and sustainable workplaces.

Circu Li-on has ambitious plans for the future, aiming to treat 24 billion batteries by 2040. The company acknowledges the challenges posed by the current shortage of skilled labour and the need to keep pace with battery recycling during the current process of rapid electrification. Southeast Asia currently does most battery recycling, a process which could and should be more local, also helping to make European Research and Development "more marketable", Antoine Welter stressed.

Various stations provided more information about the company’s processes and know-how, followed by networking with finger food and a variety of beers.