Reuse and remanufacturing of batteries improves the availability of battery materials. The Electrical Fingerprint method developed by CeLLife Technologies is able to quickly tell which battery cells and modules can be used for remanufacturing.
The purpose of the EU’s new Batteries Regulation is to promote the battery value chain, which would cover the entire life cycle of batteries from raw materials to the production of battery cells as well as the reuse and recycling of batteries. What plays a key role in the new regulation is the procurement of raw materials for batteries as sustainably as possible and the precise utilisation of these raw materials.
The life cycle of batteries can be prolonged in many ways. The new Batteries Regulation takes more account of the reuse and remanufacturing of electric vehicle batteries and industrial batteries as well as the change in the purpose of use of batteries.
The preparation of batteries for reuse refers to full or partial reuse of the battery for its original purpose of use. If the battery can no longer be used for the same purpose, it may be possible to change its purpose of use. For example, electric vehicle batteries at the end of their service life can still be used for energy storage.
Used batteries may also go through remanufacturing. In remanufacturing, the discarded battery is dismantled into battery cells or modules, from which suitable components are selected for further use. The saved battery cells and modules can then be used to build a new battery with at least 90 per cent of the original capacity. As a result, the producer responsibility for these batteries is transferred to the party that places the battery back on the market.
Tool for quick condition analysis
Before initiating remanufacturing, the remanufacturer must find out which components of the used battery are still usable. The Electrical Fingerprint method developed by CeLLife Technologies Oy allows poor and hazardous batteries to be identified from among useable battery cells and modules.
This is important, as even a single poor battery cell can make the entire battery unusable, explain the founders of CeLLife Technologies Tuomas Messo and Roni Luhtala.
“The method helps select only the working and mutually compatible batteries for reuse. Selecting battery cells that are similar in condition ensures that the battery package is as good as new in terms of the performance and service life.”
Under the Batteries Regulation, operators that remanufacture batteries are obligated to ensure the quality and safety of the batteries and take care of their safe testing, packaging and transport. They must also ensure that the remanufactured battery complies with legislation and technical requirements when placed on the market.
Reuse reduces the carbon footprint
The carbon footprint of a remanufactured battery is only a fraction of the carbon footprint of a battery made of virgin materials. In practice, the carbon footprint of a reused battery only comprises encapsulation, connectors, the thermal management system and electronics. Some of these components could also still be reused, further reducing the carbon footprint, remark Messo and Luhtala.
There are strong incentives for the reuse of batteries from both environmental and economic perspectives. More than half of the battery cells that currently end up being crushed could still be reused in the energy reserves of the electric grid or the charging stations of electric cars, for example, state Messo and Luhtala.
“There is no sense in crushing fully usable battery cells. The availability of materials and components has decreased in recent years, and their production is strongly concentrated outside of Europe.”
The sector hopes that the new Batteries Regulation will facilitate the reuse and remanufacturing of batteries as well as changing their purpose of use. At least the Battery Passport introduced by the regulation includes more precise labelling requirements, which increases the transparency of battery operators.
“The data contained in the Battery Passport on the raw materials used for the battery and the quantities describing the battery’s performance will facilitate the assessment of the potential for reuse,” explain Tuomas Messo and Roni Luhtala.
This article is a part of the joint communications of the battery and accumulator producer organisations Recser Oy and Akkukierrätys Pb Oy concerning the EU Batteries Regulation. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news on the subject.