Second Life

Global landscape and applications for EV battery reuse

Bhagyasree, Junior Energy Advisor, NDC Transport Initiative for Asia (NDC TIA) – India Component, GIZ India

Batteries typically accounts for 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the value of an electric vehicle (EV), and the race to net zero will focus on the security of supply of the critical minerals and metals needed to manufacture them (2022, IEA). Repurposing the retired EV batteries provides a potential way to reduce first-cost hurdle of EVs. An approach to maximise the utilisation of the batteries once retired from its first use in vehicular application are through reuse of these batteries for other application such as stationary storage applications. Second life of the EV batteries aids in alleviating environmental concerns associated with the end-of-life management. The previous article in the series focused on technical strategies adopted on the batteries to estimate its health after the first life and the retrofitting required on the batteries before being redeployed for a secondary application. This article elaborates the global landscape of the battery reuse ecosystem, stakeholders involved and the different second life applications of the EV batteries.

International landscape for EV battery reuse

Automotive lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery demand accounted up to 340 GWh in 2021, more than twice the level of 2020. This increase was driven by the increase in electric passenger cars as registrations increased by 120 per cent (2022, IEA). This resulted in an increase of market for second life batteries to 7 GWh demand for utility scale storage. By 2025, the supply of second life batteries will reach 15 GWh per year in both base case and breakthrough scenarios. By 2030, the supply of second life batteries from EV could exceed 200 GWh/year (breakthrough scenario) and will exceed the demand of lithium-ion batteries for utility scale storage (low-cycle and high-cycle applications). The figure below shows the historical overview of projects of second-life battery applications.

Figure 1: A historical overview of various projects of second-life battery applications

Source: (JunerZhu, 2021)

Stakeholders involved in the EV battery reuse ecosystem

The EV battery reuse ecosystem is complex due to the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, ranging from the EV industry to the energy industry. In an organised battery reuse industry, theres exist a well-established channel for the flow of batteries from the end consumers to the refurbishing plant through battery aggregators or battery collection centers. The refurbishing process in the organised segment must comply with the appropriate environmental and safety regulations. The processes used by organised reusers are of higher efficiency with lesser emissions. This is solely because the organised sector is subject to adequate oversight and testing. Figure 2 shows the operations of an organised EV battery reuse ecosystem.  The various stakeholders involved in battery reusing have been listed below:

Table 1: Various stakeholders involved in the EV battery reuse ecosystem

Procedure Possible stakeholder Role
Collection and Transportation Collection Centres Collection center can be operated by battery aggregators. Collection centers transport these spent batteries to battery reconditioners/ refurbisher/ repurposer/

reuser for further processing

Vehicle OEM OEMs collect traction batteries through their dealerships and send the battery across to the reconditioners/ refurbishers/ repurposers/ reusers
Logistics Partner Logistics partners ensures that the batteries from OEMs and Collection centers reach the recyclers with adequate transportation safety and within regulations.
Reconditioning/ Refurbishing/ Repurposing/ Reusing Battery Reconditioning (Intermediate testing agency) Involves identification of degraded cells and replacement of these cells with cells which can hold sufficient charge. The cells used for replacement could be taken from another spent or EOL battery.
Battery Repurposing (Intermediate testing Agency) Battery repurposers conduct several processes such as: disassembly, diagnostics, repurposing process including reassembly, designing BMS/TMS/EMS suitable for energy storage applications, cooperation with energy utilities, monitoring, customer services.
Revenue Generation EV OEMS The reconditioned and refurbished batteries are sold to EV OEMs. These batteries can be used in second hand EVs or in other applications within the EV
Energy Storage/ Power companies The repurposed batteries are sold to the energy storage companies or power companies. They further sell these batteries for applications such as backup power for residential purposes, energy storage systems in grids
Consumer electronics Battery reusers sell the healthy cells from the spent batteries. These can be used in various applications viz. e-cigarettes, vaping machines, mobile phones
Recycling and recovery Battery recyclers The recycling process begins with shredding where plastic, aluminium and copper are separated from the black mass. Post the same, chemical refining enables recovery of 95 per cent of the raw materials in the form of Cathode (Li, Co, Ni, Mn) and Anode (Graphite)
Battery manufacturers and active material manufacturers These are the off takers of the products generated from recycling. The metal salts and the cathode material obtained from recycling is sought by these companies for manufacturing new batteries.
Industries The plastics and metals recovered from the recycling process are sold mostly to industries.

Source: ( Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), 2022)

 Figure 2: Organised EV battery reuse operations

Source: ( ( Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), 2022)

Repurposing cost of EV batteries

The repurposing cost of a spent automotive battery depends upon various factors such as vehicle-use data, facility size, module size, cell fault rates, required technician handling time, required testing time, and repurposed battery selling price. The major contributors of EV battery reuse costs are highlighted below:

  • Acquisition of second life batteries: Cost associated with acquisition of spent EV batteries account for 56 per cent of the cost of EV battery reuse.
  • Labour: The cost of labour will depend on the labour cost in the country. Based on the US market, labour contributes to approximately 13 per cent of the EV battery reuse cost.
  • General and administrative: Along with labour, the cost associated with General and Administration also contributes to approximately 13 per cent of the total EV battery reuse cost. This includes costs associated with utilities, rent, day to day expenses associated with battery reuse.
  • Packaging material: Packaging material contributes to approximately 7 per cent of the total cost of EV battery reuse.
  • Other costs: Various miscellaneous costs contribute to approximately 11 per cent of the total cost. This includes costs associated with warranty, insurance, testing equipment, rent, capital recovery, earnings, and taxes.

Figure 3: Breakout of capital cost for battery reuse

Source: (NREL, 2018)

EV battery reuse applications

As mentioned in the previous article, after the assessment procedures, the spent EV batteries cannot be directly used in the secondary applications. Based on the level of usefulness remaining inside the batteries, appropriate retrofitting must be performed before its deployment. The identification of suitable method of reuse largely depends on the application to which the battery is redeployed. The figure below shows the major second-life applications of EV batteries.

Figure 4: Major second-life applications of EV batteries

Source: ( EVreporter, 2020)

Detailed information on reuse technology of EV batteries can be obtained from Chapter 8 (Page 277) of the report-  Battery Ecosystem: A Global Overview, Gap Analysis in Indian context, and Way Forward for Ecosystem Development.

Conclusion and the way forward

Efficient battery second use strategies paves way for extracting additional services and revenue from the battery in a post-vehicle application. Certain factors largely influence the reuse market. Small differences in depth of discharge of second life batteries can bring about large differences in the salvage value and health factor of second life batteries. The technician handling time also has a huge impact on the overall costs as compared to testing time. Cell fault rates below 0.001 per cent enables cost-effective repurposing of larger modules. It is not economically feasible to replace cells with a fault rate of above 0.001 per cent. The following key considerations becomes crucial when developing an efficient reuse ecosystem:

  • A repurposing facility can likely be dedicated to batteries from a single model of EV, avoiding the complexities of repurposing heterogeneous batteries. Operating such a facility on a regional level aid in achieving necessary economies of scale to minimise cost.
  • It is economically impractical to replace faulty cells within modules. The efficiency of the battery management system and the accuracy of vehicle onboard diagnostic data (for the first use) becomes crucial to minimise the extra effort in repurposing the modules with a greater number of faulty cells.
  • The most promising application identified for second use batteries is to replace grid-connected combustion turbine peaker plants and provide peak-shaving services.

As the EV industry is on the brink of a major transition, environmental performance of EVs has become a highly debated topic. The assessment of environmental impacts associated along the life cycle stages of battery and other components becomes crucial. The next article in this series would focus on the life cycle assessment (LCA) to determine the carbon emissions and other environmental impacts involved in each stage of the value chain.

This article is eighth in the series that focused on the key stakeholders involved in an EV battery reuse ecosystem. The next article would discuss the LCA on batteries and EVs.

References

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). (2022). Battery Ecosystem: A Global Overview, Gap Analysis in Indian context, and Way Forward for Ecosystem Development .

EVreporter. (2020). Trends in Li-ion battery reuse and recycling.

2022, IEA. (n.d.). Global Supply Chains of EV batteries.

JunerZhu. (2021, August). End-of-life or second-life options for retired electric vehicle batteries. Cell Reports Physical Science.

NREL. (2018). Identifying and Overcoming Critical Barriers to Widespread Second Use of PEV Batteries.

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