Skip content
Rad mal

A second life for bicycle batteries

Upper Lusatia

“Here we have space, here people can still repair their own things!” – after more than two decades in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Ralf Günther, who has a doctorate in Chemistry, made a new start in Kamenz, Saxony. With his company Liofit in 2013 he developed and brought an innovative technology to market maturity.Today, he and his team are among Germany’s leading professionals in the field of e-bike battery repairs.

“Just try it”

With pragmatism and plenty of courage to embark on new paths, Dr. Ralf Günther is advancing not only his own business. He inspires employees, persuades decision-makers from the fields of administration and politics and shows that innovations can arise just where you would least expect: between green forests, clear lakes and sunny little villages in the north Saxon province.

Flashback: in 2011, the medicinal product plant in Dresden closed. After 23 years in management positions, Dr. Ralf Günther had reached the end of the road – and at the same time, its beginning. The future was uncertain. But instead of fear and worry, the Dresdener-by-choice felt one thing above all: the desire to start again, to test himself and to really make a difference.

His introduction to the cycling industry came about from a casual conversation. A patent attorney he was friends with told him about an interesting idea for the optimisation of e-bike batteries. Dr. Ralf Günther was fascinated right away. He contacted the developers in Kamenz, founded Liofit, tested the technology, adjusted the business model again and persevered for three years, until it was finally clear in 2014: it worked! Liofit was a success.

"Today, bicycle repair shops and private individuals from all over Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France, England and Spain send their broken e-bike batteries to Kamenz,” reports the entrepreneur, not without some pride. Within a short time, the team determines exactly where the defect is. Broken components are replaced, intact ones can continue to be used. This not only helps the environment, but also the customers’ wallets. “Our batteries have the same capacity as brand-new products, but cost only two-thirds of the price.”

In the process, Dr. Ralf Günther has already created a total of 32 jobs – with an upwards trend. After all, the enthusiastic entrepreneur is already coming up with new ideas.

“I would like to develop a second area of activity which is a useful complement to our business and makes it possible for us to recycle e-bike batteries by the ton in future,” explains Dr. Ralf Günther. So far, the process costs a large amount of time and money for both the manufacturer and the recycler. Complex, in some cases toxic, battery components such as plastic and electrolytes make recycling more difficult.

“We will solve the problem using robot arms,” highlights Dr. Ralf Günther. “Our business customers profit because they save on recycling costs. And we can reuse intact battery components. We want to assemble them into new batteries and sell them.”

The entrepreneur has already found plenty of fellow campaigners for his idea, from the mayor to the county commissioner: “Together with various offices and authorities, a round table has been organised right here on location. The signals from the ministries in Dresden have also been positive so far.”

The first contracts with recyclers have already been prepared. And Dr. Ralf Günther is confident that he can raise the necessary funds in the next months. Then, all that remains is to attract new employees to Kamenz. They should be enthusiastic about new technologies. And perhaps too about the odd e-bike tour – through the wide, still, beautiful countryside.