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EV Batteries - the potential

EV battery testing
Companies such as Sybesma already offer lithium-ion repair and repurposing
With the push towards electric vehicles building, sooner or later we will have to confront the issue of lithium-ion batteries. An American report from the Mineta Transportation Institute suggests there are a number of positive options.

Lithium-ion batteries are used in electric vehicles as opposed to hybrids that use nickel-metal hydride, This report focuses on lithium-ion and the options available when they have fallen below the required standards for use in road vehicles.

Batteries that fall into this category do have additional economic value that can be reclaimed by:
  • Remanufacturing for reuse in vehicles.
  • Repurposing by re-engineering for a non road, stationary storage application.
  • Recycling, disassembling each cell in the battery to extract the precious metals, chemicals and other byproducts.
The report indicates that progress has been made in developing each of these options, including assessing the potential profitability of each. And let’s face it, unless profitable solutions can be found, then it won’t be good news for our industry.

Please bear in mind that figures here are based on the USA but this is happening globally so we can assume a similar situation within Europe. For the USA, the researchers’ model shows that by 2035, the number of available post vehicle application batteries ranges from 1.376 million (in the pessimistic forecast) to 6.759 million (in the optimistic forecast). This volume is enough to justify remanufacturing, repurposing, and recycling efforts.

Based on their costings (which included transportation, material handling, infrastructure development, and facility development), the analysis has shown remanufacturing to be profitable, primarily due to the avoided costs of producing new batteries when a remanufactured battery could be used instead.

Repurposing is a less well defined application area that is profitable depending on research and development costs. Recycling in isolation was shown to be not profitable, as lithium-ion batteries are composed of relatively inexpensive materials. However, recycling can support closed-loop supply chains reusing materials in the production of new batteries as well as supporting the principles of environmentalism and sustainability.

Proprietary processes for remanufacturing, including comprehensive battery testing, have been developed by Sybesma’s Electronics. Supplementing these to create a fail-safe environment, a fire-resistant workbench was specially designed and constructed.

This may not be an issue for the auto recycler in 2015 but the electric trend is going to grow and we need to be ready for it. atfPro will keep you up to date as developments happen! You can read the full report here.

June 2015

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