Multi-life utilisation refers to the process of repurposing used batteries for a second or even third life. This can be achieved through refurbishment or recycling
Battery circular economy concept is gaining momentum as more companies are recognising the need to reduce their environmental impact. The traditional linear economy, which is based on the take-make-dispose model, is not sustainable in the long run as leading world powers have realised the need to localise production and not depend on the global supply chains for their lithium battery needs. The circular economy aims to create a closed-loop system where resources are continually used and waste is minimised.
Lithium batteries are used in a variety of applications, from electric vehicles to renewable energy storage. The demand for batteries is expected to increase significantly over the next decade. However, the production of batteries has a significant environmental impact, from the extraction of raw materials to the disposal of used batteries.
Understanding Multi-Life Utilisation and Circularity
Multi-life utilisation refers to the process of repurposing used batteries for a second or even third life. This can be achieved through refurbishment or recycling. Refurbishment involves repairing and upgrading the battery to extend its life. Recycling involves extracting valuable materials from the battery and using them to manufacture new batteries.
In the context of batteries, circularity involves designing batteries that are easy to disassemble and repurpose and using recycled materials to manufacture new batteries. Multi-life utilisation helps maximise the value extraction of lithium batteries before recycling them for materials.
Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) and Multi-Life Utilisation of Lithium Cells
BESS are an important application of used automotive lithium cells. They are used to store energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind power. The demand for BESS is increasing as more countries aim to transition to renewable energy sources.
The multi-life utilisation of lithium cells in BESS is particularly important because of the high cost of lithium. Lithium is a key component of lithium-ion batteries, which are used in most BESS. By repurposing used lithium cells, we can reduce the need for new lithium extraction and minimise the environmental impact of lithium production.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Multi-Life Utilisation
Firstly, it helps to reduce the environmental impact of battery production by extending the life of batteries and minimising waste. Secondly, it can help to reduce the cost of battery production by reducing the need for new raw materials. Finally, it can create new business opportunities and stimulate economic growth.
However, multi-life utilisation also has some disadvantages. Firstly, the process of refurbishing or recycling batteries can be complex and expensive. Also, the quality of repurposed batteries may not be as high as new batteries, which may limit their use in certain applications.
Challenges and Opportunities for Multi-Life Utilisation in Batteries
One of the biggest challenges is the lack of standardisation in battery design and manufacturing. This makes it difficult to repurpose batteries because each battery may have different specifications and components.
However, there are also opportunities for innovation in this area. Companies can invest in the development of standardised battery designs and manufacturing processes that make it easier to repurpose batteries. Additionally, new technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics can be used to automate the process of refurbishing or recycling batteries, making it more efficient and cost-effective.
Case Studies: Successful Implementation of Multi-Life Utilisation in the Battery Industry
Tesla is a great example here. It has a battery recycling program that allows customers to return used batteries for recycling. The recycled materials are then used to manufacture new batteries.
Another example is the Repurpose Project, which is a collaboration between several European countries to develop a circular economy for batteries. The project aims to develop a standardised process for repurposing used batteries and to create new business opportunities in the refurbishment and recycling of batteries.
Future Trends and Innovations in Multi-Life Utilisation and Circularity
The future of multi-life utilisation and circularity in batteries is promising. One trend is the development of new battery chemistries that use less rare and expensive materials. For example, sodium-ion batteries are being developed as a lower-cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries.
Another trend is the development of new recycling technologies that can extract valuable materials from used batteries more efficiently. For example, hydrometallurgical recycling is a process that uses water-based solutions to extract metals from batteries, which is more efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional smelting methods.
How will this add to overall EV adoption in India
India’s EV space is at an inflection point. It is expected to have an accelerated growth path from now on at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 90 per cent by 2030. An important factor that will drive this growth is lowering the cost of adopting an electric vehicle.
While there are government schemes, such as the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which provides financial incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles, it is still perceived to be more expensive than conventional vehicles.
By implementing multi-utilisation of batteries, the overall cost of adopting an EV will drastically decrease, and thereby promote the growth of EVs in India.
(Sudhindra Reddy, co-founder & COO, Turno.)