Circulaire maakindustrie asks Jaspar Baltus, Managing Director of EcarACCU, based in the Netherlands, about how their company gives second life to useful parts from EV batteries.
“We give useful parts from automotive batteries a second life,” says Jasper Baltus, Managing Director of EcarACCU. “We prevent the production of new batteries by removing good components from car batteries so that they can be reused.”
What is the circular step you have made?
“The idea originated with the car company Peter Ursem. We have been repairing batteries for electric cars there for years. All of them turned out to be usable parts in irreparable batteries. And all this had to go. We wanted to keep them to get good parts. Now we receive discarded batteries through Auto Recycling Netherlands, sometimes up to forty a week.”
“The nice circular that we do is that we want to reuse everything that comes in. Normally, such a battery was brought to recycling company Umicore in Belgium, which recycled it for 50%. We arrive at a reuse & recycling percentage of 98%. We only see plastic as waste, since we have to pay for this to dispose of it. This is about 2%. Fifteen percent is metal that we sell to a recycler, such as copper and aluminium. The rest are battery cells and cords that we always find a new use for after we test them.”
“We sell the good parts to companies that are making it something new again. Such as batteries to store solar or wind power or mobile energy storage systems for rental.”
“We are growing very fast. We have just moved to a new building, but after a month half the building is already full again. And I only foresee an increase in growth. ”
What is the biggest profit?
“The biggest profit is that we have prevented 80,000 kg of waste from car batteries. And that is increasing every year when you take into account the growth of electric vehicles. If you can prevent that waste heap then that is fantastic. In addition, our second life battery is cheaper than a new one, which is nice for the buyer. Finally, we are increasingly asked to tell our story, we are a source of inspiration for other companies in Europe.”
“We prevented 80,000 kilos of car battery waste.”
What is the biggest challenge?
“A challenge for us is to find the balance between what comes in and what we can do with it. What we do is custom work and therefore not very predictable. You see what you take in and you make something of it. But it may be that a lot comes in that you can not do much with at first, the challenge is to find new projects for it.”
“In addition to that development, you also have that new batteries are getting cheaper. In order to continue to compete with this, we must also become cheaper and more efficient. Ultimately, it will be increasingly difficult to ensure that a refurbished battery is cheaper than a new one.”
“In addition, there will be legislation for storage of batteries in 2021. That you have to make fire compartments every so many metres because batteries can potentially be a hazard. Fine legislation, but it is something that concerns us. We may need to look for separate storage space.”
“Finally, the newer type of batteries have been made more suitable for repair. This is great for the circular economy, but less so for our business. We will be needed less and less. I don’t mind, we just have to adapt by, for example, making products with new cells using the knowledge that we are now gaining. And until then we will solve the problem of non-repairable batteries.”
“Batteries are getting cheaper and cheaper. In order to compete with this, we also have to become cheaper and more efficient.”
Which circular steps are planned?
“We are going to focus on larger energy storage systems and mobile energy storage systems for rental. The latter is mainly for smaller applications, such as festivals. This month we will start with the production of a test unit to see how it works in practice and if it succeeds, we will expand it. Our car company has several locations and we could install mobile units for rental anywhere at those locations. It is a challenge with transport, since you can only transport an electric car battery in an electric car. As a consumer, you cannot just transport batteries.”
“We also want to develop an old car battery collection plan for all of Europe. More and more car manufacturers want to get rid of batteries that are difficult to overhaul. And we can do that for them.”