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New European research project hopes to give new life to old EV batteries

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A new £4.5 million research project is set to establish a process to recycle or reuse EV batteries to help prevent up to nine million tons of battery waste per year going to landfill. 

While some car manufacturers have announced their intention to give old batteries a new life as energy storage, the European-wide REBELION project will look at other ways to give used EV Lithium-ion batteries a second life, or whether they can be recycled in a more efficient way. 

Nottingham Trent University is set to partake in the research project, with a £582,000 grant having been awarded to the university’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing Engineering Centre (ADMEC). 

According to research, with reconditioning, the majority of electric vehicle batteries would be able to last another ten years after their capacity has fallen below 75%. But the majority are sent to landfill and many of the first generation electric vehicles will soon reach their end of life.

The project – which is supported by the European Horizon programme and incorporates 11 organisations from across Europe – will also establish how recycling electric vehicle batteries could create a major source of Lithium-ion on the continent.

The main aims of the project include developing:

  • Technology to sort used batteries into those suitable for a ‘second life’ and those which should be recycled
  • Automated methods to dismantle batteries so that they can be recycled more efficiently
  • A safety protocol for the recycling and reusing process and designing safety box containers for safe battery transportation and storage
  • A standardised labelling system to provide data on second life batteries
  • An analysis of how well the proposed models of recycling and repurposing perform
  • A roadmap to the market for individual and joint business models

The NTU team will develop the information communication technology (ICT) platform and infrastructure. The team will also develop methods in relation to traceability of batteries, digital battery passports, ecolabelling and the calculation of eco-cost and eco-savings. The team will also contribute to repurposing second life batteries in lighting products.

Partners in the project include Universitat Politechnica de Valenica, Accurec-Recycling, Sig de Raee Y Pilas Sociedad Limitada, Ona Product SL, Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia, University of Birmingham, Fondazione Icons, Erion Energy, Erion Compliance Organization Scarl and Volkswagen Group Italia SPA.

Professor Daizhong Su, Head of ADMEC which sits in NTU’s School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment (ADBE), commented, “With the increased volume of electric vehicle batteries coming towards their end of life, it’s imperative that there’s a quick and accurate way to predict a battery’s future life in order to maximise second-life applications.

“Recycling is the most environmentally-friendly way to deal with batteries after their second life and has the potential to turn them into a major economic resource in Europe, with a value of up to £23 billion per year, as the raw materials they contain can be used for further manufacturing.

“This is an exciting project which has the potential to make the electric vehicle industry even more sustainable and help prevent up to nine million tons of battery waste per year going to landfill by 2040. We look forward to working with our partners to help create sustainable solutions for many of the future challenges of the electric vehicle industry.”

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