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ORNL’s robot tears down lithium-ion battery pack 8x quicker than by hand

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 15:17 -- paul Crompton
ORNL’s robot lithium-ion battery pack

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a robotic disassembly system for used lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles.

The robots accelerate disassembly and make the process of breaking any type of battery stack safer for workers, while increasing throughput.

ORNL project team member Jonathan Harter estimates the automated system could handle 100 or more battery stacks in the time it takes to disassemble 12 by hand.

The system breaks down the battery stack to sections, then to modules, then to cells. 

ORNL has developed other processes to break down those cells to the pouch/anode/cathode/separator components. They have also developed control technologies to repurpose spent EV batteries for grid energy storage.

Economically feasible recyling

Harter believes that to make recycling more economically feasible, it must be done at high throughput and be flexible enough to process multiple consumer products in a single facility. 

He said: “Industry is not limited on the amount of batteries they can take into this process. There is a significant backlog already accumulated. 

“The limiting factor is the time it takes to perform the electrical discharge and perform disassembly manually.”

The robots remove bolts and other housing regardless of any remaining charge, whereas human operators must undertake lengthy processes to discharge used batteries before breaking them down manually. 

The automated system was developed as part of DOE’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI).

It can be programmed to access the individual battery modules for refurbishment or reuse as stationary energy storage, or the batteries can be taken down to the cell level for separation and materials recovery.  

The work builds on expertise developed in previous ORNL projects for the CMI that focused on robotic disassembly of hard drives for recovery of rare-earth magnets. 

Engineers also proved that those magnets can be directly reused in electric motors.

The researchers follow the same protocol each time: breakdown the used component manually and collect data on that process to create the robotic tools and controls needed to drive an automated system.

The next step could be building the process up to commercial scale, and applying the same kind of disassembly system to electric vehicle drive trains for recovery of materials such as rare earth magnets, copper, steel and intact power electronics. 

The system was developed and demonstrated at ORNL’s Grid Research Integration and Deployment Center.

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Metals dealer sets up Singapore firm to invest in lead-acid battery recycling

Wed, 07/22/2020 - 10:23 -- paul Crompton

A metals trader has set up a company to invest in recycling firms in emerging markets with a short-term emphasis on lead-acid batteries and a long-term focus on electric vehicles.

Nishchay Chadha has set up ACE Recycling in Singapore, with an initial focus on trading and investing in lead battery recycling. 

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Samsung in talks with Hyundai to supply its lithium-ion pouch cells for EV applications

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:17 -- paul Crompton

Representatives from battery giant Samsung and vehicle OEM Hyundai Motor Group have met in Korea to discuss use of a lithium-ion solid-state cell in next-generation electric vehicles.

The meeting between Samsung Electronics vice chairman Jay Y. Lee and Hyundai Motor Group's executive vice chairman Chung Eui-sun was made on 12 May at the battery plant of Samsung Display in Cheonan, near Seoul, reported the country’s media outlet Aju Business Daily.

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Swiss researchers examine solid-state battery secrets

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 13:20 -- John Shepherd
Swiss researchers examine solid-state battery secrets

Swiss researchers have lifted the lid on electromechanical processes that take place in solid-state batteries in a move they say could make the technology safer and more efficient for use in electric vehicles.

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) used X-ray tomography to observe the batteries “more precisely than ever before” and discovered how fissures in the battery material propagate.

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Indian start-up plans next stage of second-life lithium-ion ESS development

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 12:34 -- paul Crompton

An Indian start-up has developed a prototype energy storage system using recycled lithium batteries from electric vehicles.

Totus Power has field trailed a prototype/proof of concept in India, but remains 12 months and $350,000 away from doing a pilot with a pre-production prototype.

The company can take a used EV module, connect it to its own battery management system and charge an ESS from a solar or a plug-in power source.

It can be used to replace lead-acid batteries or fossil fuel energy generation, said Siva (Shiv) Rajendran, founder and CEO of Totus Power

He told BBB the company has all the infrastructure/relationships to make up to 5,000 units a year.

The company is currently sourcing end-of-life batteries from an unnamed ‘large’ automaker’s ‘most popular EV model’.

Rajendran said: “The deal is in the works, hence I can’t share the name yet. This is already a large supply pool, which we will take a few years to fully utilise. Conservatively, we can make 10,000 units a year - if not more. 

“It seems very simple to manufacture a EV battery down to a Totus Power product.

“The Modules are the building blocks of a EV battery and is shipped in boxes to us by the automaker directly. We already pre decide what level of quality these used modules are, i.e SOH%). 

“Some of our knowledge is in correlating this SOH% to real world life, along with the supply chain and associated shipping and recycling regulations.  

“But they say the devil is in the details: So over the next 12 months, when we start writing our assembly/manufacturing procedures, I will have a better handle on what ‘simple to manufacture’ actually means.”

However, because the firm is mainly self-funded and has only secured a few grants to date, its speed of execution is dependent on more cash becoming available. 

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Lithium boss airs concern on future of battery industry

Fri, 08/26/2016 - 09:16 -- paul Crompton
Lithium boss airs concern on future of battery industry

The boss of China’s second biggest lithium carbonate supplier has questioned if growth in lithium-ion battery production can be sustained by electric vehicles.

For the first time Wang Xiaoshen, executive vice president Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium (JGL), has expressed concern the growing electric vehicle market, which drives lithium-ion battery demand, is unable to continue sustainable growth, particularly in China.

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LG Chem to supply Li-ion batteries for China’s SUVs

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 11:12 -- paul Crompton
LG Chem to supply Li-ion batteries for China’s SUVs

LG Chem has signed a deal to supply China’s largest SUV producer with 200,000 lithium-ion batteries for a range of electric vehicles.

The Korean firm signed the deal with great Wall Motor to supply batteries for the automaker’s new EV range, to be launched in 2017.

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