How to treat the "blue ocean" of battery recycling

Issuing time:2017-10-06 14:27

Since the beginning of this year, with the release of the third batch of catalogs, the production and sales of new energy vehicles have gradually recovered. However, the problem of recycling waste power batteries that plagues the industry has not been well resolved. Relevant agencies predict that more than 200,000 tons of power batteries will be scrapped by 2020. However, the recycling market created by recycling metals such as cobalt, nickel, manganese, lithium, iron and aluminum from waste power lithium batteries will also exceed 100 million tons. billion, forming a new profit market.

At the end of January this year, the "Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Development of the Renewable Resources Industry" jointly issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Ministry of Science and Technology mentioned that the recycling of new energy power batteries will be included in major pilot demonstration projects, around the Yangtze River Delta, In areas where the development of new energy vehicles such as the Pearl River Delta and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei gather, a number of cities are selected as demonstration sites for the recycling of power batteries for new energy vehicles.

It is understood that this is also a pilot work carried out by the country for the recycling of power batteries. The guidance also mentioned that the recycling of power batteries requires the establishment of a traceability management system through information technology such as the Internet of Things and big data, to support the establishment of a universal and economical recycling model, and to develop cascade utilization and reuse technologies. Research, product development and demonstration applications.

Although the policy direction is clear and enterprises actively participate, the system for the recycling of power batteries has not been well established. Research data shows that less than 10,000 tons of power batteries were actually dismantled and recycled in 2016, and more than 80% of the scrapped batteries are still stranded in the hands of car companies. According to the analysis of industry insiders, this is due to the fact that the technical details of power battery recycling and the corresponding economic problems have not been resolved, resulting in the slow progress of power battery recycling.

At present, the recycling process of power lithium batteries is mainly: power battery manufacturers use the complete sales network of electric vehicle manufacturers to recycle waste batteries in the form of reverse logistics. Consumers will return the scrapped power batteries to the nearby new energy vehicle sales and service outlets. According to the cooperation agreement between the battery manufacturer and the new energy vehicle manufacturer, the new energy vehicle manufacturer will transfer it to the battery manufacturer at the agreed price, and then the battery company will Carry out professional recycling.

Generally, the recycling of waste power batteries can be divided into two directions: the first is cascade utilization, mainly for batteries with reduced capacity (below 80%) and which cannot provide power for electric vehicles. This kind of battery itself is not scrapped, and can still be used in other ways, such as for power storage; secondly, it is dismantled and recycled. For those waste batteries that are seriously depleted in battery capacity and cannot be used any longer, after dismantling, there is a possibility for recycling. Utilize valuable renewable resources.

Under multiple driving forces such as policies, interests, and responsibilities, more and more companies have begun to recycle power batteries. In addition to the establishment of professional power battery recycling companies such as Shenzhen GEM and Ganfeng Lithium, power battery companies including BYD, Watermart, Guoxuan High-Tech, CATL, AVIC Lithium, and BAK have all launched in the field of power battery recycling. Active market layout.

As a leading company in new energy vehicles in China, BYD has established a complete power battery recycling system. Usually, BYD will entrust its authorized dealers to recycle waste power batteries. When a customer requests to replace or scrap the vehicle and needs to recycle the power battery, the dealer will take the used power battery out of the vehicle body and transport it to BYD Baolong factory for preliminary testing.

If the used batteries can continue to be used, Baolong factory will conduct further testing on them, and these batteries will continue to be used in household energy storage or base station backup power in the future. If the batteries cannot be reused, the BYD Baolong factory will transport these batteries to the relevant departments of the Huizhou material factory, and then disassemble them for recycling. Not only is the process sound, but the recycling efficiency is very high.

By declaring and undertaking the large-capacity energy storage power station construction and demonstration application project in Shenzhen, Watermart has explored two sets of recycling schemes for decommissioned power batteries, and is about to test and sort decommissioned power batteries. Energy storage power stations and mobile power supply vehicles, and power batteries that cannot be used in cascades are used to regenerate decomposed materials to avoid pollution to the environment.

In the lithium battery recycling process, Watermart uses the "directed circulation" model pioneered by the company and the global "reverse product positioning design" technology to adjust the ratio of multi-element components with formula reduction technology, supplemented by thermal and chemical synthesis of the synthetic solution. Power PH value control realizes the "directional cycle" from waste batteries to battery materials, so as to organically integrate the entire circulation of batteries from manufacturing, consumption to recycling.

"For power batteries that have ended their service life, we will conduct recycling tests and put them into recycling in other application fields. The recycling rate of our batteries has reached 99%." Ningde Times CTO Bo Geren also said, Ningde era already has the core technology of the whole industrial chain from material, battery cell, battery pack research and development, manufacturing, battery recycling, cascade utilization, to the recycling of purified raw materials.

In addition to this recycling method led by power battery companies, some companies have also established professional battery recycling platforms. For example, Bangpu Group invested 1.2 billion yuan in Ningxiang, Changsha, Hunan to set up a professional battery recycling factory. According to Yu Haijun, Vice President of Bangpu Group and General Manager of the Automobile Recycling Division, after the plant is completed and put into operation, Bangpu will have an annual recycling capacity of more than 100,000 tons of used power batteries.

Yu Haijun believes that most OEMs and battery factories have three problems in the field of recycling: first, they do not have the experience and professional ability of battery recycling; second, they do not have the professional technical equipment for battery recycling; Compared with the battery industry, it is only a small low-profit industry. Therefore, most vehicle battery companies will choose to cooperate with a third-party professional recycling organization like Bangpu to carry out professional recycling of used batteries.

Although the market prospect is good, there are not many companies involved in the battery recycling business, and most of the companies involved in it are out of responsibility considerations, and very few of them can really achieve profitability. All in all, the economic benefits brought by the current recycling of decommissioned batteries are not obvious, which is mainly limited by the current market capacity of decommissioned batteries is small, and the cost consumed in the process of battery recycling is too high.

"The recycling process of waste batteries is complex, the process is relatively long, and there is no mature complete set of equipment available in the industry. Bangpu's key equipment for front-end physical treatment and back-end chemistry are all independently developed and designed by Bangpu. In terms of water body process control, it has also carried out technical cooperation and joint development with the Academy of Sciences, forming Bangpu's own distinctive characteristics in equipment." Yu Haijun mentioned that the investment of battery recycling companies in the early stage of equipment and technology will also be very large.

At the same time, whether it is physical technology, chemical technology or back-end synthesis technology, battery recycling needs continuous optimization and upgrading. The original traditional wet smelting and manual dismantling technology cannot solve the environmental protection and safety problems caused by the complex structure of power batteries. In addition, there is no convenient and effective method on how to judge the residual value rate of the battery, and whether the battery will be used in cascades or disassembled.

At the "Two Sessions" held in March this year, Zhang Tianren, chairman of Tianneng Group, a representative of the National People's Congress, proposed that "it is necessary to increase the research on key technologies such as dismantling, reorganization, testing and life prediction of waste lithium batteries, and improve the maturity of technology and the production process. The safety, as well as the level of automation and recycling efficiency, make the recycling and reuse of power lithium batteries economically feasible and safe."

In addition to the lack of equipment and technology, the current small market volume is also the crux of the problem that restricts the profitability of battery recycling. Usually new energy vehicles will need to face the problem of battery replacement in about 5 years. For high-frequency vehicles such as taxis and buses, the need for battery replacement may be shortened by 3 years. However, the market for new energy vehicles in my country exploded in 2015, so the wave of large-scale battery replacement is estimated to wait until after 2018.

In addition, the main body of responsibility for battery recycling is not clear. Although last year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the National Development and Reform Commission jointly issued the "Technical Policy on the Recycling and Utilization of Electric Vehicle Power Batteries", which clarified the general responsibility. It can be understood as: whoever produces is responsible, and whoever pollutes is governed. However, this also means that power production companies and automobile manufacturers have indelible responsibilities on the issue of power battery recycling.

For power battery companies, they believe that power batteries have been sold to car companies, so the cost of recycling should be borne by the car companies. However, car companies believe that batteries are produced by power batteries, and car companies are just users, even if the recycling parties should share the cost. However, given the large initial investment in power battery recycling and the immature technology, battery companies and new energy vehicle companies are unwilling to take responsibility for battery recycling.

Therefore, many car companies have stated that they will hand over the decommissioned power batteries to third-party recycling agencies. With their technical advantages and experience, they are a good place to go for disposing of decommissioned batteries. It is understood that currently there are not many companies with recycling and utilization qualifications in the market, and because the products of various power battery companies are different, there is currently no effective detection method for all power batteries, which also brings problems to the detection process. a certain degree of difficulty.

For the power battery industry, although the recycling project has many complexities, it is difficult to make profits in the short term. But as more and more batteries are about to be retired, battery recycling will also form a market size of 10 billion. Layout of power battery recycling in advance is not only to prolong the service life of batteries, but also to create new profit growth poles for enterprises. It is undeniable that power battery recycling will usher in a period of rapid growth in 2017.

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