- BattMan ReLife, developed by VW Group Components and Audi Brussels, can quickly diagnose EV battery health, displaying several vital statistics in minutes.
- Old electric vehicle batteries can be remanufactured for use in new electric vehicles, reused for charger systems and other materials, or recycled into components to create new batteries.
- VW has launched a pilot plant for battery recycling in Salzgitter, Germany, and has opened a new battery development laboratory for all brands of the VW Group.
With a lot of older electric vehicles on the roads today, the issue of battery life and recycling is more urgent than ever when it comes to buying vehicles or making decisions about what to do with electric vehicles with batteries almost worn out.
VW Group Components has developed a system called BattMan ReLife (Battery Monitoring Analysis Necessity) that can check the health of a battery in minutes, eliminating conjectures and charging hours of the process. The first version of the software was created by the quality management department of Audi Brussels to test the battery of the Audi e-tron and later received more work from VW Group Components in Salzgitter, which is the site of the new VW battery labs.
The device first checks if a particular battery is able to communicate after plugging in the low voltage connectors. BattMan then detects and displays the error messages present, in addition to insulation resistance, temperatures, cell voltages, and capacity.
“We are able to measure all the most important parameters of a cell,” said Axel Vanden Branden, Audi Brussels quality engineer. “Then a traffic light system indicates the state cell by cell: green means that a cell is in good condition, yellow means it requires a more detailed inspection, and red means that the cell is out of order “.
At this point, one of three things can be done. A battery can be remanufactured if it is in very good health, to be used in other electric vehicles as a spare part. A battery can also be reused, if its health is average to good, for use in other machinery, such as a home power storage system or a fast charging station. The third option is to separate and recycle its components in a plant such as the one recently launched by VW in Salzgitter, during which the battery is gently disassembled and the materials they contain are separated, such as copper, plastics, aluminum and black powder. The so-called black powder contains valuable materials such as manganese, cobalt, graphite, nickel and lithium, which are then separated by hydrometallurgical processes and combined again into a cathode material for new batteries. And right now, the cathode material can be used for batteries in new electric vehicles.
“We know that recycled battery materials are just as effective as new ones,” said Frank Blome, head of batteries and battery systems at Volkswagen Group Components. “These recycled materials will be used to supply our cell production activities in the future.”
The Salzgitter pilot plant will do just that with the goal of reprocessing tired EV batteries. VW Group Components aims to achieve a recycling rate of over 90% for reusable battery components, the pilot plant initially has the capacity to recycle up to 3,600 battery systems per year. This number may seem small at first, but more than 1,600 tons of materials are produced that will be recovered from these batteries. And VW plans to mark this capability to recycle tens of thousands of batteries annually in recent years, when older electric vehicles become a much bigger problem than they are now.
So the good news is that the industry still has some time before used electric vehicles with degraded batteries become a problem that needs to be solved.
The news is that if new solid-state compositions that do not depend on rare metals do not appear soon, the forecast for lithium cracking could lead to a major boost in the recycling of EV batteries for which other car manufacturers and suppliers may not. be prepared.