The life-cycle management of batteries is a major issue globally, and this was underscored at the 2017 International Congress for Battery Recycling (ICBR) which recently took place in Lisbon, Portugal.
Lithium Ion and the relevance of the Circular Economy were two of the recurring conference topics, in addition to several other big issues confronting many decision-makers in the battery recycling chain such as producers, recyclers, collection schemes, policy-makers, researchers, transport companies and many more.
Will LeMessurier, Managing Director of MRI E-cycle Solutions attended the gathering and shares some of his insights, noting that many of the issues are relevant to the Australian context.
The ICBR is the international platform for discussion of the latest developments and the challenges of battery recycling. Over 200 international experts gathered in Lisbon to discuss and present on a diverse range of topics including:
- Safety aspects with Lithium primary and lithium rechargeable batteries
- Battery technologies development
- Urban mobility: the gate to e-mobility?
- Update of the review of the Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC
- Energy storage: opportunities for a second use of batteries?
- Energy storage and e-mobility: complementary technologies?
- Economic aspects of collection or take back schemes
- New trends in battery recycling technologies: primary and rechargeable
- Eco-design: a critical approach to batteries removability?
- International developments in batteries collection and recycling
- Safety aspects in the end of life value chain
Some insights and observations
- There was a major focus on the Circular Economy and how batteries are considered from a circular and life-cycle perspective.
- The projections for growth in Lithium-based technology is significant with a threefold increase by 2025 being projected.
- The growth in electric vehicles is immense.
- The electric bike market in Europe is growing rapidly and is having a measurable effect on the market.
- The concept of battery reuse is on the agenda as a legitimate pathway for batteries with Renault conducting some very focused R&D.
- There are continuing issues with the definition of ‘portable’ batteries which are the subject of the EU battery recycling directive versus industrial batteries.
- Major concerns were expressed about thermal run-away in relation to larger batteries eg e-bikes. Germany is leading the way with rules and requirements for their safe transport utilising heavy-duty containers capable of withstanding temperature of up to 1000C.
- The pre-treatment of Lithium Ion batteries is raising concerns during pre-treatment phase with evidence that there is a range of chemicals released that are hazardous to human health with concentrations as low as 10 ppm.
- Lithium Ion batteries and their movement an emerging issue of concern particular those over 3 Kg including bike batteries.
- There is a major concern that the bike batteries will contaminate handheld batteries of less 500 Gm collections. This contamination can lead to major issues for battery processors and aggregators.
- There is inadequate regulation and focus on lithium Ion battery recycling after their sorting in terms on potential fire hazard.
- The concept of thermal runaway is major concern in terms of the amount energy released in a very short space of time; and the off-gases released in the process is hazardous to human health in very small concentrations.
The Lisbon conference was an excellent event and highlighted the need for Australia to accelerate its policy reform work in relation to all aspects of the battery life-cycle.
The ICBR also confirmed the view that battery stewardship needs to address a diverse range of issues along the supply chain and not recycling alone. The complexity associated with various battery chemistries and their application in numerous product applications means that conventional thinking on battery production, use and EoL processing, needs to be re-calibrated to ensure high levels of safety AND resource recovery.
The time is right for Australian regulators to work closely with manufacturers and the waste management industry to develop appropriate policies, standards and procedures that can facilitate robust battery stewardship programs for local conditions.
Contact Will LeMessurier directly if you would like to discuss the Lisbon conference or your specific battery collection and recycling requirements.
For more information about battery collection and recycling services, including convenient containers and collection buckets, visit the MRI E-cycle Solutions battery recycling web page.
Managing Director, MRI E-cycle Solutions
Mobile: 0419 302 682