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Nottingham Trent University embark on project to give electric vehicle batteries a ‘second life’

Around 9m tonnes of lithium batteries become essentially unusable every year and are incinerated or sent to landfill. Nottingham Trent University’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing Engineering Centre (ADMEC) have been awarded a £582,000 grant as part of a Europe-wide effort to mitigate this waste.

Professor Daizhong Su, Head of ADMEC said: ‘With the increased volume of electric vehicle batteries coming towards their end of life, it’s imperative that there’s a quick and accurate way to predict a battery’s future life in order to maximise second-life applications.’

When lithium-ion batteries fall below 75% capacity, they are considered unfit to power EVs but research suggests that proper reconditioning could extend their life by years.

The research team will specifically be looking at developing automated ways to disassemble batteries for more efficient recycling and safety protocols for recycling, transporting and storing them.

They will also analyse how well the proposed models of recycling perform and draw a roadmap to market for individual and joint business models.

Professor Daizhong Su again: ‘Recycling is the most environmentally-friendly way to deal with batteries after their second life and has the potential to turn them into a major economic resource in Europe, with a value of up to £23 billion per year, as the raw materials they contain can be used for further manufacturing.

‘This is an exciting project which has the potential to make the electric vehicle industry even more sustainable and help prevent up to nine million tons of battery waste per year going to landfill by 2040. We look forward to working with our partners to help create sustainable solutions for many of the future challenges of the electric vehicle industry.’

In America, the Department of Energy have just provided a company Li-Cycle, a battery recycling company, a $375m loan to build a lithium-ion recycling centre which will be one of the first commercial facilities of its kind in North America.

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