Lithium batteries are primary batteries that have metallic lithium as an anode. These types of batteries are also referred to as lithium-metal batteries. Lithium batteries are very efficient and durable.
Lithium batteries have been contributing extensively to cell phones and energy for vehicles mainly. The energy back up of such batteries are the main source for massive growth of electric vehicles (EVs) around the world. Moreover, electric vehicles are preferred by all as substitute to fossil fuel to reduce vehicular pollution which contributes heavily to the climate change effects.
Currently, almost all automobile manufacturers have started producing EVs for global consumption. China is the leading country to manufacture and supply EVs to its domestic market and rest of the world while USA, South Korea, Germany, Japan are also producing high quality EVs for the global markets. Similarly, Norway is the country recognised for high ratio of EVs sales and operation in per capita basis.
Since these batteries run minimum of 8 years or even beyond according to the rated lifecycle. These are supposed to be well performing till they provide 80 per cent of efficiency.
Now time has come to the EV world to prepare on the reuse or recycle of Lithium batteries after their expected life. Many researches and studies are being carried out in the universities and competent laboratories to this purpose.
Nepal also needs to carry out studies and possibilities on reuse or recycle of Lithium batteries installed in the electric vehicles.
Some countries have strict rules on the afterlife of batteries. They managed to mandatorily return the life ended batteries to the automobile producers. But, Nepal has yet to consider on this aspect also.
At the time when lithium-ion battery reaches end of life it still bears often significant capacity as mentioned above. This feature has created a scope with several different segments and applications where the batteries are used instead of brand new batteries. The logics are often not different from other second hand markets such as for cars, machinery or fashion except for one key difference. So as a battery can be repurposed and used in completely different applications than what they originally were made for.
All about reuse or second life for lithium-ion batteries is often focused on its feasibility and if it makes technical and economic sense.
Most batteries that reach end of life do that because the product they power has been damaged, obsolete or just phased out. In tests done by Circular Energy Storage at sorting facilities in both Europe and the US, over 80% of batteries ranging from laptop batteries to 1 kWh backup power units has been proven good for further use both for their original application and for new, less demanding applications. In fact as much as 24% of single-use batteries that have been dropped off for recycling have proven to be in perfect conditions. Usually the worst performing batteries are those that either are replaced such as power tool batteries or batteries that are heavily used such as smartphone batteries. For larger packs used in vehicles and machinery the batteries are usually in good conditions at least for some applications.
According to literatures available online, the most important reuse segments are: • Direct reuse, • Remanufacturing of battery packs, • Stationary energy storage, • Conversion of ICE vehicles to electric vehicles, • Do-it-Yourself-projects, • Cell refurbishment
If a battery cannot be reused in a secondary application, components of it may be recycled. Through battery recycling, as many materials as possible are recovered while preserving any structural value and quality the batteries have. While reuse is considered preferable to recycling in the waste-management hierarchy, end-of-life EV batteries may provide an excellent secondary source of critical materials in the future.
The battery is a key component of electric cars, since together with the engine, it represents the life of the vehicle. According to different surveys conducted by specialists worldwide, this component of an electric car should last at least eight years, which is about 3,000 charge cycles. It is estimated that, after that time, the battery will reduce 75% of its capacity, so that, technically, it would still have a long life ahead of it, despite reducing its performance.
BYD, a manufacturer of cars, buses, trucks, bicycles, forklifts and electric batteries, explains through its expert advisor, Miguel Zamudio, the importance of this device and how to take care of it.
Zamudio emphasizes that taking care of the battery of electrified cars is simple, since users only have to follow recommendations and be aware of those actions that can go against the proper use to have a pleasant driving experience and especially prolong the life.
Japanese automaker Nissan has partnered with Italian utility Enel Group to launch a project that will use end-of-life Nissan EV batteries as part of a standalone 4MW/1.7MWh battery storage system.
The battery storage system will comprise the batteries of 48 used Nissan Leaf batteries and 30 new Nissan Leaf battery packs, and will be located at a coal-fired power plant in Melilla, Spain, and will be operated by the Enel Group’s Spanish subsidiary, Endesa.
It will provide grid stability to the local Melilla electricity network, by kicking in when the coal plant suffers problems and disconnects from the system, giving operators enough time to reset the system and restart the power supply.
Nissan Leaf batteries are also being used to store energy on solar grids in California, Fisher says. Once solar panels capture energy from the sun, they need to be able to store that energy. The old EV batteries may no longer be optimal for driving but they’re still capable of energy storage.
Even as secondary-life batteries fully degrade after various uses, minerals and elements like cobalt, lithium, and nickel in them are also valuable and can be used to produce new EV batteries. (By R. P. Narayan)