Italian battery automation specialist Comau said it is developing a fully automated system for sustainable battery recycling and second-life reuse.
It is part of the EU’s Flex-BD (Flexible Battery Dismantling) project. Flex-BD is a robotised system that automates the entire process of dismantling worn-out electric batteries.
The company said it has validated its proof of concept and expanded the scope to include second-life repurposing of automotive batteries. It reckons that by 2030, the EU could easily have over a million discarded batteries to be reused. It sees a growing demand for powerful electric battery recycling and repurposing.
Its system improves manual handling, plus repetitive and heavy tasks, and reduces contact with potentially harmful substances. “It therefore makes the recovery of battery modules and their components more efficient and sustainable while having a positive impact on workers’ health and safety,” it said.
With this system, battery packs are taken apart by a Comau NJ industrial robot. In a typical recycling application, the robot unscrews the battery cover, changes grippers to remove the cover, re-attaches the screwdriver to unscrew the modules and then using its gripper moves the pieces to a dedicated storage area.
Second-life battery repurposing is done while maintaining a low but active battery charge, it said.
The dismantling cycle is defined through CAD, while the use of low-code programming allows operators to redefine the cycle with no need to reprogram the robot.
The company, part of car maker Stellantis, is also addressing key technical and development aspects of the automation process for battery cell manufacturing. This includes process design and assembly of rechargeable cells, as well as the use of renewable energy and second-life strategies for automotive batteries.
Pietro Gorlier, Comau CEO, said: “Our work with the Flex-BD project leverages Comau’s longstanding automation expertise in the development of flexible, scalable and sustainable processes.”