Dr Xue Wang, Co-founder & CMO at Botree Cycling, a Chinese-based company which provides a complete solution for the recycling of critical battery materials, provides Auto Recycling World with their approach to lithium-ion battery transportation solutions.
Lithium-ion batteries play an important role in E-mobility and energy storage; however, the spent batteries, like damaged or defective ones, can present a challenge which makes them difficult to transport or store. They can easily ignite, cause explosions due to the high intrinsic energy, and are exceptionally difficult to extinguish. If the fire is on a vessel, it is a disaster.
The safe storage and transportation of lithium-ion batteries have always been a problem, and the suggested recommendations like transporting only qualified batteries, ensuring partially charged batteries, following strict packing instructions, providing training, employing early detection systems and implementing pre-defined emergency response plans1 are all palliative. The risk still exists as long as there are spent batteries transported and stored.
In coping with this problem, Botree Cycling has come up with one genius idea. Instead of transporting these dangerous batteries, why not deliver mobile equipment on-site for battery pre-treatment when the battery is worn out as an extension of the recycling plant?
The advantages are obvious: the danger of fire and explosion can be minimized, while the carbon footprint of battery transport can be alleviated. Spent battery transportation can contribute approximately 3.5% of the overall carbon emissions in the battery end-of-life treatment.
Rarely has the lorry carrying capacity been sufficiently used, mainly due to safety concerns and the fact, which is often neglected, that only half of the battery mass (black mass) will be finally processed in the battery recycling plant. By using the mobile recycling solution, the carbon footprint of spent battery transportation can be reduced by at least 50%.
“Safety is the biggest concern when we design the battery recycling solution; therefore, we configured the container-designed mobile equipment to minimize the danger and lower the carbon footprint. Also, the transportation of batteries is very expensive”, said Xiao Lin, the CEO of Botree Cycling.
The main steps for battery recycling include pretreatment, a hydro/pyro metallurgical process and materials production. For pretreatment, it contains a whole set, including a discharging device, crushing device, tail gas treatment and an automatic loading system. The device is then loaded onto the container, vehicle or skid to ensure flexible movement. With this fully-functional mobile equipment, the batteries can be broken into small pieces and black mass for further treatment. The safety risk is eliminated by discharging and crushing, making transportation much easier and cheaper.
Meanwhile, Botree Cycling extended its mobile solution to successive leaching and extraction units to further process the black mass. It integrates the leaching tank, extraction tank, storage tank, pump, agitator and control system in the container module, with complete functions. It is convenient for hoisting, transportation and installation, which can significantly shorten the construction period of the project. The modules can be coupled to form a mini-plant.
As the movable treatment capacity can reach 500-5000 tons of battery packs per year, the modular equipment can largely shorten the delivery and construction time and save operation costs.
The mobile solution from Botree Cycling has been used in China’s advanced recycling companies and is currently in the process of CE marking application. Hopefully, it can be delivered to Europe and the US in 2023. Botree Cycling is looking forward to changing the spent battery transportation with smart mobile equipment.
2Slattery, M., Dunn, J., Kendall, A. (2021) Transportation of electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries at end-of-life: A literature review, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 174, 105755