Traction Battery Recycling: Solutions Needed for a New Problem

Traction battery recycling feature pictureThere is one distinct difference between an electric car and an internal combustion engine vehicle: The traction battery. With increasing market penetration more and more lithium-ion batteries are entering the market. “We are moving away from the consumption of oil during the driving stage and at the same time we are moving towards the usage of finite and rare materials during production phase. The keyword now is ‘Recycling’ ”, Uwe Brendle, Head of Division in the Germany Federal Ministry for the Environment emphasised that considering traction battery recycling when promoting electric mobility is key in terms of reducing the environmental impact of new energy vehicles. During the 3rd Sino-German working group meeting on traction battery recycling on the 9th December 2014 at the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) headquarters in Tianjin, Chinese and German experts discussed the status, challenges and outlook of recycling of traction batteries in China and Germany.

“Both countries are facing a new problem as vehicle traction batteries are a new concern, that should be specifically covered in regulations and laws”, battery recycling expert Dr. Matthias Buchert from the Öko- Institut highlighted the importance of a continuous dialogue. He further stressed that safety regulations and enforcement in terms of transport, recycling and cascade use is a key in overcoming current challenges. During the event a comprehensive feasibility study for recycling of traction batteries in China, commissioned by GIZ, was presented. The Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission stressed that with the finalisation of the feasibility study a new project phase begins. As a next step, GIZ supports its partners on behalf of BMUB in implementing the suggestions included in the feasibility study. This includes among others regulations that define clear responsibilities of producer, seller and consumer including an extended producer responsibility, establishment of indicators for waste treatment permits including standards for best available technology, regulations for safe transport, treatment and storage as well as creating an enabling economic framework. After the finalisation of the workshop the delegates visited battery production factories and recycling factories in Shenzhen to further exchange on current practical experiences.

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