A job for Battman
What happens to the battery when an e-vehicle has reached the end of its service life?
To reuse or to recycle – that is the question asked about vehicle batteries at the end of their active lives – and it’s one being answered by Battman.
5 October, 2021
The Battman diagnostic software quickly determines a battery’s overall state of health, checking cell by cell
It’s one of the many questions people ask about electric vehicles – what happens to the battery when when it’s reached the end of its service life? A fair question too, regardless of the fact that a well-maintained vehicle battery will last for many years. When it does eventually reach the end of its active service life though, Audi is well advanced in determining how best to deal with it – whether to reuse or to recycle.
To most efficiently make that determination, the brand is turning to Battman. BattMAN, or Battery Monitoring Analysis Necessity, is analysis software developed by Audi Brussels to check the state of health of a battery in just a few minutes.
A process that used to take hours for each battery, the Battman diagnostic software quickly determines a battery’s overall state of health, checking cell by cell. Depending on the capacity that the inspection system detects, a high-voltage battery may be reused in a vehicle either in whole or in part, receive a second life as a mobile or stationary energy reservoir, or the key materials are recycled for reuse.
Axel Vanden Branden, Quality Engineer at Audi Brussels, explains: “We are able to measure all a cell’s most important parameters. Then a traffic light system indicates the status cell by cell – green means a cell is in good order, yellow means it requires closer inspection, and red means the cell is out of order.”
So a battery that Battman deems to be in a good or very good state of health, can be reprocessed for further use as a replacement part for e-vehicles after undergoing repair. In the second option, it receives a ‘second life’ when it has a medium-level to good state of health which allows its continued use outside an e-vehicle for years to come – say as a flexible quick charging station, a mobile power source or a driverless transportation system.
The third option entails efficient recycling in the Volkswagen Group Components pilot plant in Salzgitter. Here, mechanical processes are used to gently dismantle only the most completely exhausted of batteries into their basic materials such as aluminium, copper, plastics, and ‘black powder’. This ‘black powder’ contains the valuable battery components lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt, and graphite, which are separated by specialised partners using hydro-metallurgical means before being processed again into a cathode material.
Frank Blome, Head of Battery Cell and System at Volkswagen Group Components, says: “We know that recycled battery materials are just as effective as new ones. These recycled materials will be used to supply our cell production activities in the future.”
We know that recycled battery materials are just as effective as new ones – these recycled materials will be used to supply our cell production activities in the future
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