HomeGreen TechnologyHas Battery Recycling Arrived Too Quickly? What About Second Life Vitality Storage?

Has Battery Recycling Arrived Too Quickly? What About Second Life Vitality Storage?

There’s a report out this morning from the Washington Put up with this scary title — “EV Battery Recycling Has Boomed Too Quickly.” Bloomberg can also be carrying a model of this story. There aren’t sufficient used electrical car batteries to satisfy even 10% of the uncooked materials demand for electrical automobiles made within the US, the Washington Put up says.

In the meantime, the US already has extra battery recycling capability than it has batteries obtainable to recycle, with extra private and non-private battery recycling amenities deliberate or below development. The Put up summarizes its report with this pithy assertion: “Many of those investments are destined to fail. These few that succeed will achieve this solely by diversifying away from recycling, at the very least quickly.”

Whoa! Decelerate a minute. The US Division of Vitality simply authorised a $2 billion greenback mortgage for Redwood Supplies, the battery recycling firm based by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel. Has DOE been hoodwinked? Did they not do their due diligence? How might they not know what the Washington Put up and Bloomberg know?

Battery Recycling By The Numbers

It seems the Washington Put up story relies on info equipped by Round Vitality Storage, a UK consulting group that claims on its house web page it’s “the main supply of unbiased details about the lithium-on battery end-of-life market. We acquire and analyze information on volumes, costs, technolgy and gamers within the quickly rising international reuse and recycling trade.”

Yup, you learn that proper. The corporate has two evident typos in its enterprise description, and but it claims to know extra about this subject than Straubel or the businesses which have chosen Redwood Supplies to be their battery recycling associate, firms like Ford, Rivian, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

battery recycling

Mercedes reveals battery recycling plans for the US & China, picture courtesy of Mercedes

At the moment, faulty batteries that go instantly from manufacturing to the scrap heap account for about three-quarters of batteries recycled in US and international battery vegetation, CES says. That proportion will decline as battery manufacturing expertise improves, leaving much less scrap obtainable for recycling. Don’t anticipate a provide of EV traction batteries to develop into obtainable till someday within the subsequent decade, both.

These batteries final a very long time — as much as 500,000 miles in response to Elon Musk — and when they’re now not appropriate for his or her unique objective, they are going to be used for grid-scale power storage or bought to used EV homeowners who want to exchange their batteries however don’t wish to pay for a brand new one and are keen to simply accept shorter vary and decrease efficiency with a view to save a buck.

For all these causes, the Washington Put up (which final yr revealed a scary story about EV drivers freezing to dying on highways throughout winter storms) concludes its piece with this perception. “Investments in battery recycling expertise and capability aren’t an entire waste. In time, they’ll contribute to a extra sustainable and environment friendly US EV battery provide chain. However attaining that objective would require greater than factories and press releases. It’ll require batteries — and recyclers want to begin planning how they’ll get them.”

Gee, I ponder if JB Straubel ever thought of the place the availability of batteries for his factories would possibly come from? Most likely not. He’s not very vivid and definitely not as vivid because the analysis employees at Round Vitality Storage. Isn’t it attention-grabbing how some individuals scream about how used EV batteries will pile up in landfills and pollute our aquifers whereas others proclaim with equal ferocity that battery recycling is going on too quickly? Are both of them proper? Maybe the reply is that neither has an correct deal with on the battery recycling future.

Second Life Battery Storage In California

One factor is correct concerning the Washington Put up story — EV traction batteries which might be now not appropriate for powering an electrical automotive nonetheless can have loads of power storage capability, which might be put to good use as grid-scale storage to assist take in some renewable power when it’s plentiful and ship electrical energy again to the grid when wanted. Ars Technica has a report out this week about B2U Storage Options that has simply activated a 25 MWh battery storage facility in California that makes use of second life EV batteries solely.

Freeman Corridor, the CEO of B2U, instructed Ars Technica the expansion of EV gross sales has began to offer a gentle provide of top quality batteries which might be appropriate for grid storage obligation. “We’re within the early days of the end-of-life EV batteries being obtainable however there was a gentle stream of these batteries turning into obtainable.”

By working with battery OEMs, B2U is gaining access to various batteries that by no means spent a lot time in automobiles. “They do have some powertrain guarantee dynamics the place they’re changing batteries that didn’t meet sure promise specs, and there have been some pack alternative packages for among the early automobiles just like the Leaf,” Corridor stated. “There are R&D batteries which might be on the market, they’re going to make use of for R&D after which turning into obtainable. There are different type of trade rising pains the place you get some batteries which might be produced that don’t fairly meet specs for automotive use that may nonetheless be used for stationary storage. These batteries work very properly. They’re engineered for very demanding use circumstances, and the use case in stationary storage is way much less demanding.”

To avoid wasting on prices, B2U makes use of full battery packs relatively than eradicating the cells and putting in them in a brand new housing. To take action, it has needed to construct a translation layer that sits between the software program that manages the storage facility and the battery administration system on the battery. That layer controls charging and discharging and helps monitor the well being of particular person batteries.

The corporate could be very cautious about how its software program responds to any points. “We’re setting ‘guard rails,’ if you’ll, which might be pretty conservative,” Corridor stated. “These are set far inside even the type of nameplate specs that the OEMs present. If something was to ever get to our guard rails, we simply shut down the batteries mechanically.” The interpretation layer additionally ensures that the overall instructions issued by the facility-control software program get translated into the particular instructions wanted by batteries from totally different producers. The California facility is utilizing batteries constructed for Honda and Nissan automobiles, and B2U says it has examined its software program on batteries made for GM and Tesla as properly.

Understanding how a battery’s capability has declined is crucial for the power’s operation. Corridor stated that, throughout charging, the corporate’s software program has to acknowledge when a person pack has reached its capability and inform it to disconnect at that time to permit the stronger batteries to proceed charging. Conversely, the system should deal with batteries with differing quantities of capability because the system discharges, permitting those who have emptied their capability to drop out at the same time as the power as a complete continues to discharge.

All of that must be dealt with seamlessly in order that the 1,300 particular person battery packs, all with distinct efficiency traits, appear like a single unit from the grid’s perspective. Proper now, the corporate is primarily centered on storing energy generated by photo voltaic panels (the battery is positioned at a photo voltaic facility) and promoting it within the night because the solar is setting.

However even second life batteries attain some extent the place they’ll now not deal with grid storage obligation. “We’re positively working with OEMs and with the recyclers to guarantee that that life-cycle administration exercise is dealt with correctly,” Corridor stated. “Reuse must be becoming hand in glove with the recycling in order that it’s all dealt with very successfully.”

The Takeaway

Managing the manufacturing and finish of helpful life procedures for EV batteries presents loads of challenges. Happily individuals like JB Straubel and Freeman Corridor are engaged on options which might be practical and market pushed. They don’t want a bunch of quantity crunchers who can’t spell working round waving their fingers within the air and warning about there not being sufficient batteries to make recycling economical till 12 years from now. The anti-EV and anti-renewable crazies don’t want any encouragement of their indefatigable efforts to bash something to do with EVs and renewables.

The financial system that prevails in many of the world is fantastically designed to reward those that guess proper and punish those that guess incorrect. Concern not, issues will end up simply high quality and at the very least we’re not dumping billions of used batteries within the woods the way in which we did with outdated tires for generations. We have now discovered a factor or two from the errors of the previous.


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