This year’s International Automotive Recycling Congress was held in Basel on 5th -7th July. EGARA was fortunate to have a speech on Wednesday 6th July. It’s probably not a surprise that we choose to speak about EV batteries.
In the presentation we tried to explain to the public that the waste hierarchy is fully applicable on the dismantler’s reuse priorities of batteries, simply because they follow the best profits. In other words: just like any other parts reuse, battery reuse is sustainable by nature.
Currently the Battery Reguation is under amendment which means the members of parliament can amend the regulation. But the main points for dismantlers are: The market decides (not the producers!) and no operators are discriminated. This is good news and we have always stated we decide about the batteries’ destiny.
H/EV batteries come from accident vehicles and start to come from ELV’s. Dismantlers have to decide the status of the battery. Unstable batteries must leave the yard as soon as possible by an authorized collector. Broken or worn batteries are sold to (authorized of course!) battery repair or refurbishers or sold for second life. Batteries for reuse should only be sold to authorized garages. Important is the storage of both unstable batteries as well as batteries that are sold for recycling or any form of reuse. Methods so far used to decide the status are temperature, visible damage, soapy smell and monitoring of CO2 and temperature.
Reuse of a battery means it will be reused for it’s original purpose: traction. No new materials need to enter the loop. Repair has the same goal. Second life means the battery will be used for (stationary) energy storage. The second life producers will be responsible for these batteries. Materials may stay long caught in this constellation. Recycling is costly. Not only the recycling process is, but the transport is also costly, especially of unstable batteries. EPR should tackle these costs. On the other hand: materials become available for newer generations of batteries which may be more efficient than older batteries that more over only have a percentage of their original capacity.
Dismantlers need training to both dismantle and store batteries the right way. They also need information. This information should not differ per brand or type and should be easily retrieved in for instance IDIS. This information should also tell where other li-ion batteries (for central door locks, E-call, tire pressure, etc.) are hidden in vehicles. We also need information about the state of health (SoH) of the battery. We are able to dismantle, store and sell and discard of batteries in a responsible way, but information should not be kept form dismantlers. To keep costs as low as possible, we decide the destination after we decided the status of the battery.
Of course we also learned some new things:
- One of the main concerns about a li-ion fire is the release of PFAS. These are fluoride bonds that are carcinogen and collect in our body tissues.
- Several types of Li-ion batteries exist: NML (lithium, manganese, and cobalt oxide as cathode material) is mostly for portable electronics, just like LCO (lithium cobalt). NCA (lithium nickel cobalt aluminum) is phasing out, NMC (lithium nickel cobalt manganese) is based on nickel, LFP (lithium iron phosphate) is current technique, SIB could replace Li-ion (Sodium is cheap, but early design state, less energy content).
- Cobalt content is more and more replaced by other materials and LFP contains less and less cobalt.
In all: we will have to deal with li-ion batteries more and more, but will this technique be a standard or a phase?