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Recycling Power

August 2022 – Battery circular economy trends, announcements and news from Australia and around the world

Highlights – Battery recycling research prioritising safety, security and sustainability

  1. Electric Vehicle Fires at Sea: New Technologies and Methods for Suppression, Containment, and Extinguishing of Battery Car Fires On Board Ships
  2. Solving the problem of battery waste – research projects at Australia’s Deakin University
  3. Using microwaves to support decentralised, small scale recycling of alkaline batteries
  4. Tracing the origin of lithium in lithium-ion batteries using isotopes
  5. UK Critical Minerals Strategy – battery recycling is a must have
  6. Easy to read summary of US activities in battery reuse, repurposing and recycling
  7. Become an ABRI member
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1. ELECTRIC VEHICLE FIRES AT SEA: NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND METHODS FOR SUPPRESSION, CONTAINMENT, AND EXTINGUISHING OF BATTERY CAR FIRES ON BOARD SHIPS

The title of this article is that of a research program being carried out by the DBI – The Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology. As part of this program, the DBI has recently conducted testing into the detection and extinguishing of electric car battery fires ion vehicle decks in ferries. The preliminary results provide the first practical experience of how best to detect and extinguish onboard electric car fires using tolls such as water mist and fire tarpaulins.

The Confederation of Fire Protection Associations Europe (CFPA-Europe) reports:

  • The tests took place in a structure consisting of 40-foot containers.
  • During each test, the electric car was surrounded by eight conventional cars. They were parked as close to each other as they would be on a ferry, in order to investigate the spread of the fire and reproduce the physical working conditions for the extinguishing work.
  • Conventional fire detectors (smoke/heat) were used for detection, and prototypes were tested for the detection of NOx and hydrogen fluoride respectively.
  • For extinguishing/cooling, fire-retardant tarpaulins, sub-vehicle sprinkling of the battery, ‘flooding’ of the battery, puncturing the battery itself, sprinkling with water mist and traditional fire-fighting with smoke-helmeted fire-fighters and a fire hose were all tested.

FULL CFPA-EUROPE ARTICLE
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2. SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF BATTERY WASTE - RESEARCH PROJECTS AT AUSTRALIA'S DEAKIN UNIVERSITY

The Australian Battery Recycling Initiative and the Institute for Frontier Materials at Deakin University have been collaborating on projects to support battery recycling for the past year by building links between industry and researchers.

Deakin University is working on a range of projects to consider how best to recycle lithium-ion batteries, and how to create them in the first place using circular economy principles.

To find out more about Deakin University’s work in battery recycling read their latest research news story Solving the problem of battery waste.

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3. USING MICROWAVES TO SUPPORT DECENTRALISED, SMALL SCALE RECYCLING OF ALKALINE BATTERIES

In Australia, distributed, small scale recycling systems for used batteries in regional and remote areas is an area of focus for the battery recycling industry given low population density, high transport costs and the need to reduce fire risks in transportation.

To look at how this could be achieved, researchers in Japan have used laboratory testing to analyse a process  using microwaves for recycling alkaline batteries. The study found the process was energy efficient and consequently reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Microwave-based heating recovered MnO and Zn separately, achieving a recovery rate of 97% under room temperature. The recovery rate of zinc obtained by microwave-based heating was 150% that of using conventional electric furnace-based heating, with less than half of the heating time required.

The full article “Distributed recycling system with microwave-based heating for obsolete alkaline batteries” can be found in Volume 9 of Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

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4. TRACING THE ORIGIN OF LITHIUM IN LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES USING ISOTOPES

Tracking battery materials to support sustainable and ethical production of lithium batteries is growing in importance for EV and energy storage manufacturers. OEMs often require recyclers to demonstrate compliance with voluntary certification processes such as R2 (Responsible Recycling practices) and achievement of ISO quality management (ISO 9001) and environmental system standards (ISO 14001).

To support certification of battery inputs and tracking of materials, researchers in this article published by Nature Communications have looked at how lithium from each of the major producing regions can be “fingerprinted” using isotopes. While the article focuses on  tracking lihtium in battery manufacturing using new raw materials, it is an example of innovative approaches being developed that could be used as future tools to certify critical minerals recovered from battery recycling.

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5. UK CRITICAL MINERALS STRATEGY - BATTERY RECYCLING IS A MUST HAVE

The UK Government has released a Critical Minerals Strategy which recognises the need for UK industry to have access to:

  • lithium, cobalt and graphite to make batteries for electric cars
  • silicon and tin for electronics
  • rare earth elements for electric cars and wind turbines

Battery recycling is a core component of the strategy and the UK is looking at how its circular economy priorities can support increased recovery, reuse and recycling rates. Priority actions for the UK government are:

  • Promoting innovation through using public R&D funding to support recycling, reuse, resource efficiency and substitution of critical minerals.
  • Exploring how government funding mechanisms can support companies developing UK skills and capability in the circular economy of critical minerals where the market is not working or where the UK makes a strategic choice to accelerate progress.
  • Using regulatory tools to promote re-use, recycling and recovery of critical minerals, via the planned Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consultation on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations later in 2022 and future consultation on end-of-life batteries, including the Extended Producer Responsibility framework.
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6. EASY TO READ SUMMARY OF US ACTIVITIES IN BATTERY REUSE, REPURPOSING AND RECYCLING

A useful and easy to read summary on EV battery reuse, repurposing and recycling activities in the US prepared by Jessica Dunn a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Are EV Batteries Recyclable?

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7. 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

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT US!
CLICK HERE TO JOIN
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