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ABRI December/January News

Keeping you up-to-date on battery circular economy news in Australia and around the world.

December 2021 / January 2022 contents

  1. The most recycled American consumer product – lead acid batteries
  2. Northvolt – closing the lithium-ion battery loop – making new batteries from recycled materials
  3. Industrywide e-bike battery recycling stewardship program in the US
  4. EV FireSafe – a global first information source to support emergency responders and establish a global list of EV fires to inform best practice
  5. Growing the Australian battery industry – a skills and workforce development plan
  6. Become an ABRI member

Thank you for your support of the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative during 2021. Best wishes for 2022 and may all your battery stewardship activities be successful. 

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1. THE MOST RECYCLED AMERICAN CONSUMER PRODUCT - LEAD ACID BATTERIES

Lead acid batteries are a circular economy success story with a long history. As discussed in this article by Essential Energy Everyday the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes lead batteries as the most recycled consumer product in the US.

US lead acid battery recycling rates are at 99% compared with 96% in Australia. The US market is significantly larger than Australia with around 3 million tonnes recycled each year compared with 150,000 tonnes. At their end of life, lead batteries are separated into three key components: lead, plastic and acid, which are then reused to manufacture a new lead battery and restart the cycle of use-recycle-remanufacture.

Typically, a new lead battery is comprised of 80% recycled material.

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2. NORTHVOLT - CLOSING THE LITHIUM-ION BATTERY LOOP - MAKING NEW BATTERIES FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS

Northvolt has announced its produced a lithium-ion battery cell featuring a nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cathode produced with metals recovered through the recycling of battery waste.

The recycling process recovers up to 95% of the metals in a battery to a level of purity on par with virgin material. Nickel, manganese and cobalt metals used in the new battery cell were recovered from battery waste through a low-energy hydrometallurgical treatment which involved the use of an aqueous solution to isolate the metals and separate them from impurities.

The recycling and battery manufacturing processes occur at a single site and the next step for Northvolt is to scale-up its recycling capacity. Northvolt aims to produce cells with 50% recycled material by 2030 and the company ultimately plans a giga-scale recycling plant to enable recycling of 125,000 tons of batteries per year.

Construction is scheduled to commence in Q1 2022 and with the recycling plant operational in 2023. The plant will receive material for recycling from two sources: end-of-life batteries from electric vehicles and production scrap from its existing battery manufacturing plant.

Materials recovery will also include copper, aluminium and plastics which will be recirculated back into manufacturing flows through local third-parties.

Northvolt is a Swedish company manufacturing lithium-ion batteries from recycled materials with a focus on electric vehicles.

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3. INDUSTRYWIDE E-BIKE BATTERY RECYCLING STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM IN THE US

PeopleForBikes, a US bicycle industry association, has announced it is teaming up with Call2Recycle  to establish the first industrywide electric bicycle battery recycling program in the United States.

The e-bike battery recycling program launched in early November will start operations in 2022. Bicycle industry suppliers and manufacturers are now signing on to support and fund the collection and recycling of e-bikes. Bicycle retailers can begin enrolling in the program in February 2022. Retail collection sites and at-home collection kits will be available for battery collection in mid-2022.

Call2Recycle and PeopleForBikes have released a YouTube video discussing the scheme and its establishment.

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4. EV FIRE SAFE - A GLOBAL FIRST INFORMATION SOURCE TO SUPPORT EMERGENCY RESPONDERS AND ESTABLISH A GLOBAL LIST OF EV FIRES TO INFORM BEST PRACTICE

Australian team EV FireSafe has established a global list of electric vehicle fires which can be used to extrapolate data about the causes of battery fire and understand flow on impacts such as suppression methods and fire reignition.

The project has been supported by seed funding from the Department of Defence and is delivering information and resources to improve both safety and awareness among first responders. The project team included a Electrical Engineering Masters student from Deakin University’s Faculty of Science, Engineering & Built Environment and worked with a range of Australian and international fire and transport agencies plus electric vehicle sector experts.

EV FireSafe’s initial research supports the assertion by Tesla & others that electric vehicles are far less likely to catch fire than internal combustion engine vehicles, & shows about a third of electric vehicle fires occur while that vehicle is connected to energized charging. Further research & testing in 2022 will help the EV FireSafe team better understand the risks to those first on scene in an EV & charging scenario, including first responders, EV drivers & bystanders.

The project also includes a useful range of resources to support emergency responders. Volunteer emergency responders can download a presentation pack ​which contains a high level look at electric vehicles, EV fires, suppression & reignition risk. It includes best practice examples from international fire agencies.

Further information is available on the EV Fire Safe website and updates through their LinkedIn page.

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5. GROWING THE AUSTRALIAN BATTERY INDUSTRY - A SKILLS AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PLAN

The Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC) in conjunction with the South Metropolitan TAFE (Fremantle, Western Australia), has released a “Vocational skills gap assessment and workforce development plan”.

The plan analysed the extent to which current National Training Package qualifications are aligned with the skills and knowledge needed in the emerging battery industry. It includes a section dedicated to the needs of lithium-ion battery recycling and the skills to support this industry.

Battery value chain industries were analysed from mining through to refining and processing, battery cell manufacturing, battery energy storage system (BESS) manufacturing, BESS deployment, electric vehicle servicing, electric vehicle supply equipment manufacturing and installation and lithium-ion battery recycling.

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6. BECOME AN ABRI MEMBER - THE BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP

Workshops – Presentations and policy discussions from leading industry players and research institutions

Policy and advocacy – working with governments on a national waste tracking system

News – member bulletins on key regulatory and other events, general bulletins on industry news

Collaboration with Australian Battery Industry Association on industry issues e.g. lithium ion battery safety

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CLICK HERE TO JOIN
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