While it's early days for recycling and for second life reuse, the potential in both supply and demand terms could be really big.
Lithium-ion waste from a solar lantern scheme run by oil & gas major Total in Kenya will be recycled into new batteries for solar home systems by start-up Aceleron.
Total Access to Energy Solutions (TATES) sells solar lamps and kits in emerging markets and aims to sell 6 million distributed “solar energy decentralised solutions for homes and communities” by 2025, which would enable electricity access for roughly 25 million people.
Aceleron, meanwhile is a UK-headquartered company which is at an early stage of commercialising what company CEO Amrit Chandan recently described in a blog for this site as “simple assembly technology” which “facilitates the easy replacement of components, coupled with advanced machine learning technology that can tell which components are faulty.”
“This means a battery can function for up to 25 years, just like you could keep a car running for 25 years with appropriate maintenance and servicing,” Chandan wrote in the blog.
The initial £51,000 (US$65,910) project between the two sees Aceleron turn TATES’ lithium waste into second life batteries at US$45 per kWh. Over a predicted lifespan of seven more years in the field those particular batteries could have, this works out at US$6.5 a year in Kenya, where, Aceleron claims, lead acid can already cost almost twice that (US$12 a year per kWh) and only last for three years.
Around 800 people will be impacted by that investment, in off-grid communities in Kenya and also in neighbouring Benin, Rwanda and Libya, while TATES has said it will use its existing networks to encourage other companies to contribute their waste lithium batteries to the project with Aceleron. Aceleron CEO Amrit Chandan told Energy-Storage.news in an interview that the project is “going to a scale phase” shortly, with details being finalised with Total.
"Our approach is, let’s try and reuse everything we can, extract the resource, all the carbon that went into producing those batteries [in the first place] to really get a value as we can and offset all of the energy that’s gone into producing these in the first place before they ultimately need to be sent for material recovery," Chandan said.
The start-up has already created 150 ‘new’ second life battery packs from a stockpile of 5,000 assessed from TATES. Of that stockpile, around 4,500 of the packs were suitable for second life repurposing. The company’s business model also emphasises creating a value chain so that while assembly is currently done in the UK, servicing could be done locally, Chandan said.
Read the full article on the Energy Storage website here.