The start-up LiBCycle takes care of used e-car batteries.
What started as an idea for a transport container for used batteries has now developed into a complete recycling service for used batteries. The start-up LiBCycle, founded at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), is committed to the circular economy and thus makes a contribution to sustainable mobility.
Philip Brunotte said:
We don’t want to run from one round of financing to the next all the time, we want to do something to make our company fit for the future!
And the position of company founder Philipp Brunotte on the financial situation of his start-up applies to the entire company. Together with partner Áron Németh, he founded LiBCycle in 2021, a circular economy service provider for used and defective lithium-ion batteries. His biggest customer?
The automotive industry, whose transformation to electromobility is driving an enormous need for disposal options for old batteries, is happy to delegate the industry to service providers. The core element of the start-up is a specially developed transport container that significantly simplifies the handling of battery packs.
Our containers make life very easy for car manufacturers.
“We pick up the batteries and bring them directly to the recycler or to a second-life provider. Manufacturers only have to place an order, LiBCycle takes care of the rest.”
Áron Németh, CTO of the start-up and currently enrolled in the TUM master’s program “Development, Production and Management in Mechanical Engineering”.
Customers want all-round service
The two entrepreneurs came up with the idea for LiBCycle while they were studying at TUM. The first business plan was created during the TUM Entrepreneurial Masterclass, in which students can write their master’s thesis and prepare for founding their start-up. After completing the course, Philipp Brunotte founded LiBCycle together with Áron Németh.
“Initially we focused on our transport containers, but based on what our customers wanted, it quickly became clear that we had to take a holistic approach. So we took on the logistics and recycling together with partner companies,” recalls Philipp Brunotte, who completed his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at TUM, of the development of today’s company.
However, the focus is still on the transport container developed by the two founders. They produced the first prototypes in TUM’s MakerSpace, a high-tech workshop where founders can put their ideas from the drawing board into practice. The LiBCycle box breaks with the conventional industry approach and uses no loose materials as filler to separate the individual battery modules; flexible fiberglass pads are used instead.
This is a more sustainable solution that also simplifies handling and reduces the time it takes the driver to load the containers. The patent application for the container and its components has already been filed.
Cash flow positive after just one year
Thanks to an investor from the logistics industry, the young company is now able to handle not only the packaging but also the complete transport of old, defective and destroyed batteries, exactly what the market is currently demanding. Automakers are striving to outsource the entire end-of-service-life process for vehicle batteries.
The company is thus making its contribution to sustainable electric mobility, because the growing number of electric cars consumes finite resources such as rare earth metals to a considerable extent. The circular economy makes it possible to use these resources longer or to recycle them for use in new batteries.
And after just one year, LiBCycle is already “cash flow positive”, ie the founders are taking in more money than they have to spend. Although the company has so far mainly limited itself to Germany and neighboring countries, the company plans to open up the international market in the future.
Start-up LiBCycle takes care of all used e-car batteries, 11/11/2022