The importance of battery recycling has become increasingly appreciated in recent years, since battery uncontrolled disposal and consignment to landfill can lead to environmental issues and result in the loss of potentially valuable materials. With the world now well underway towards converting its transport from internal combustion to electrical power, the demand for battery recycling, repurposing and recovery is set to expand enormously over the next twenty years. This undoubtedly offers many significant opportunities, but it is also a potential source of problems that must be addressed if the full benefits of using batteries are to be realised. On the positive side, recycling can provide the raw materials required for making new batteries, thereby reducing demand from primary mining sources and the associated negative impacts. For example, there have long been concerns about the way cobalt is extracted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with its use of artisanal mining, unsafe and hazardous working conditions, and the use of child labour.
The recycling industry has traditionally been a male dominated environment. With the once familiar scrap yard having rows of end of life vehicles stacked two or three high in a windswept, rain-soaked field, it is unsurprising that recycling attracts the number of people it does. Of course, these images no longer represent the main body of recycling activities, where sophisticated technological solutions are increasingly utilised to recover as much valuable material as possible in the most efficient manner. This is particularly true of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and is likely to be even more important with electric vehicle (EV) batteries and their associated materials and components
Future Powertrain Conference (FPC2020) is a two-day UK event which brings together industry and academic experts in the field of powertrain development. Presentations and discussions are held on the solutions to challenges faced by the engineering industry in the UK and internationally over the next ten years. With over 50 presenters and more than 200 companies attending, this event is seen as key to helping strengthen the UK engineering community and to meeting future challenges. This year the conference took place on 4th and 5th March, at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull.
VALUABLE was represented at FPC2020 by project lead Alberto Minguela (HSSMI). VALUABLE was present on the HSSMI stand, which included two other HSSMI projects – Perseus and E:PriME, and Alberto also had a speaking slot on the second day of the conference.
The coronavirus pandemic is having an immediate impact on our daily lives, causing huge national disruptions, as well as major changes in the daily routines and behaviour of people throughout the world. However, in addition to these immediate changes, it is already clear that there will be many other longer-term impacts and perturbations to what was the established normal order of life. This will be particularly true for international trade and manufacturing, especially where product supply chains involve multiple countries and regions of the world. The lithium-ion electric vehicle (EV) battery is one such example and, even though the world is still in the midst of the ‘corona crisis’ and far from any certain conclusions about the inevitable long-term impacts, it is nevertheless interesting to consider what the implications may be for EV battery production.
In the days when long distance express trains were pulled by steam engines, Britain’s railway operators competed with each other to provide the fastest service. The LMS and LNER companies both ran trains from London to Scotland and there was an intense rivalry, with each trying to offer the shortest journey times. Often, trains would have limited stops or, in some cases, they would run non-stop to save time. However, there was a big problem in that the locomotives needed huge amounts of water to turn into steam. They could carry sufficient coal to burn, but not enough water and yet stopping to refill their tenders would considerably extend their journey times. The problem was conveniently solved by introducing troughs between the rails that could supply water to a locomotive while it was still travelling at speed. These troughs were typically several hundred yards in length and, as the train approached them, the crew would lower a scoop into the water of the trough; the forward motion then forced the water upwards into the tank of the locomotive’s tender. In this way, the engine received several tons of water without stopping.