Battery analytics essential to managing the recycling process

Battery analytics provides visibility in a precursor to the mandated European battery passport, as transparent battery health aims to minimise need for recycling. By Cat Dow

As the industry strives to ensure electric vehicles (EV) cause less environmental harm than the internal combustion engines that preceded them, implementing battery recycling infrastructure is crucial. But recycling lithium batteries is a far more complex endeavour than lead battery recycling.

Dr Athan Fox explains, “The lead battery is the most successfully recycled commodity item in the world. Nothing else even comes close. How is it that something invented in the 1850s before anybody talked about recycling [is so successful]? It's the simplicity of the product. You take a lead battery through a hammer mill to smash it to bits before you recycle it. The plastic component floats, the metal sinks and the electrolyte dissolves in the water. It's so beautifully easy to separate, and then you can treat the components.”

When it comes to EV batteries, however, things are not so straightforward. Fox continues “There are multiple types of battery chemistries that go into the lithium category. There are many different chemicals that can deliver the energy storage and delivery is a big part of the equation. There are three different ways to put those chemistries into cells. There are infinite ways to build the cells into modules then into packs. And in many cases, when the recycler gets a battery pack at the end-of-life, they don't even know where the screws are to begin to take it apart.”

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