EV Battery Reuse And Recycling NAATBATT 2023

New Vehicles, Technology, Data, and Personally Identifiable Information: The Challenges of What’s Left in Salvage Vehicles and How Can We Protect Ourselves as Well as Previous Owners?

Sandy, Scott Robertson, Shan Latham, Nick Daurio, Eric Wilbert, Shannon Nordstrom, and myself recently attended the NAATBATT conference on Feb 21st-24th,in Phoenix. For Sandy, Scott, and myself, this was our second time attending this event. Because this was such a great, and informative event last year, and how the world of EV’s is evolving at such a fast rate we felt the whole EC should attend.

The purpose of this conference was to look at the feasibility of what to do with batteries out of end-of-life Hybrid/Electric vehicles.

There are several types of these batteries currently in use. The first-generation being Nickel Metal Hydride batteries (NiMH), as well as current -generation, which are Lithium-Ion batteries. The focus was on second-life use, as well as being able to recycle and recover the elements from these batteries.

This event was also hosted by the Department of Energy, DOE. Some of the challenges that were discussed were regarding the huge increase in Hybrid/Electric vehicles, this will obviously increase demand on the elements (rare earth materials) that are used in manufacturing them. With the current battery type obviously being Lithium-Ion, from a national security standpoint, there is concern about availability of these rare earth elements that primarily come from countries that we do not have good relationships with. The main elements are Lithium and Cobalt, and Nickel. These elements may very well come into short supply in the future, which is the reason for exploring different methods to recycle these batteries down to the Cathode/Anode to recover these elements for reuse.

In the next few years we will likely see changes, and evolution in “battery chemistry”.

Let’s look at some of these, and how they can affect our industry.

1: Lithium Phosphate Batteries (LFP)
LFP’s have a low self-discharge rate, and have longer life cycles. In some cases, they have twice the life cycle of lithium Ion. They are less susceptible to dis-charge damage, because they are designed to discharge up to 90pct of its total capacity without any long-term damage, what this means is longer range, and is more stable and safer than Lithium Ion.

The biggest advantage here is its main elements are in abundance in our country, and this is cobalt and nickel free, which means they will cost less to produce, in addition to being less toxic and harmful to the environment.

This will mean this battery type will be of lowest value to us auto recyclers, and if we can’t find a same use or 2nd life for these we may have to pay to get them recycled.

2: Lithium-sulfur, (Li-S)
Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory are researching this newest chemistry, and are testing these materials in battery construction, one of these materials is sulfur which is extremely abundant, and can hold more energy than lithium-ion batteries, they have had a recent breakthrough on making this new chemistry a viable option now.

Because this is so new the jury is still out on what it will mean for our industry, in terms of reuse, or 2nd life, and recycling.

As this is all a “work in progress” how this will shake out in the coming years has yet to be determined.

To put this into perspective, for all of us that have used battery operated tools, (drills saws and Sawzall’s)

Just look at how they have become more powerful and have much longer run times than just a few years ago. This is because of advances in battery design and engineering.

This will also happen in EV’s also.

What is the latest, and greatest today can very well be obsolete tomorrow.   

Obviously, for recycling to be successful, there must be a value in it for the recycler. These EV batteries could be a liability or they could have great value. Your Association, ARA, has and always will protect the auto recyclers right to sell our parts in the most profitable market.

We offer training, and certification courses for Auto Recyclers on best management practices, as well as how to safely handle, remove, and store these batteries, with the focus on high-voltage safety and depowering this high-voltage system. It also focuses on the safety equipment needed. This training is going to be critical for all recyclers because of the danger of putting untrained workers at risk of serious injury or death from these high-voltage batteries.

ARA is YOUR Association. We are constantly working on raising awareness, as well as training and educating our members to be the best that they can be. Remember, an association is only as strong as its leadership and the participation from its members. We can either have more opportunity or more hardship. What happens all depends on our ability to evolve and improve as an industry. Do you want to have a hand in shaping your future or not? The choice is yours.

Support your State Association, Support ARA, the only Association for Auto Recyclers!

Marty Hollingshead

ARA Secretary · Northlake Auto Recyclers — Hammond, IN

Hollingshead has been in the professional automotive recycling industry for 45 years, including 34 years as President/Owner of Northlake Auto Recyclers, one of the industry’s leading facilities. Hollingshead prides himself on taking a hands-on approach in the business, employing the use of checks and balances for quality control to ensure customers only receive the highest quality parts. Northlake was one of the first automotive recycling facilities in the state of Indiana to receive from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management the Indiana Clean Yard – Gold Level Certification in 2009. Northlake was certified as one of the Indiana Certified Automotive Recycler Exemplary Standards (INCARES) program’s inaugural medalists and was the highest scoring facility in Indiana in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and tied for first place in 2018. Northlake was also the recipient of the 2016 ARA Certified Automotive Recycler of the Year award, having been nominated by his peers in the industry.