NTU and REBELION project to give EV batteries second life

Up to nine million tons of battery waste per year could be prevented from going to landfill thanks to a £4.5m project to establish a process to recycle or reuse EV batteries.


The project includes Nottingham Trent University (NTU), whose Advanced Design and Manufacturing Engineering Centre (ADMEC) has been granted £582,000 as part of the Europe-wide REBELION project, which looks to give used EV Lithium-ion batteries a ‘second life’ or be recycled more efficiently.

Professor Daizhong Su, head of ADMEC, said recycling batteries after their second life could be worth up to £23bn per year, as the raw materials they contain can be used for further manufacturing. Furthermore, research shows that with reconditioning, most EV batteries would be able to last another ten years after their capacity has fallen below 75 per cent, but the majority are sent to landfill or incinerated and many of the first-generation EVs will soon reach their end of life.

The project – supported by the European Horizon programme - will also establish how recycling EV batteries could create a major source of Lithium-ion in Europe.

For their part, the NTU team will develop the information communication technology (ICT) platform and infrastructure. The team will also develop methods in relation to traceability of batteries, digital battery passports (DBPs), ecolabelling and the calculation of eco-cost and eco-savings. The team will also contribute to repurposing second life batteries in lighting products.

Professor Daizhong Su explained that the ICT platform/infrastructure developed in the project will be based on IoT, traceability and blockchain technologies. These will enable relevant participants in multiple locations to obtain online information about second life batteries in real time and to efficiently conduct tasks including the screening, repair and replacement of battery components.

“Within this platform/infrastructure, the actor - such as recycling company, battery repair centre, battery manufacturer - in the value chain will be able to create their own traceable routes in the same platform, which provide the flexibility to monitor at different stages of the battery’s life cycle, while ensuring secure and reliable access and sharing of information and data,” he said.

He added that the DBP will provide key information about the second life battery, including traceable information for sorting/screening of end-of-life batteries, eco-costs and eco-savings reflecting battery’s environmental impact, ecolabels, dynamic data related to the battery values (state of health, remaining capacity, internal electric resistance), and integration of records from other database systems related to DBP.

“The DBP was initialised by EU in recent years and is currently at conceptual level,” said Professor Daizhong Su. “It is a challenge to collect and monitor relevant battery data along the whole battery lifecycle, incorporate all [the] battery’s digital information, as well as provide an accessible and centralised battery information bank. To address this issue, the DBP developed by this project is to provide the necessary information about the battery via collecting/identifying data from the actors in the value chain, which has not been covered so far.”

For lighting products, the project will utilise second life batteries for decorative lighting that can be used indoors and outdoors.

“The use of second life batteries is part of a wider strategy of building sustainable products where the components are made from recycled materials,” said Professor Daizhong Su. “The DBP, ecolabel and traceability/blockchain technology developed will be applied in the second-life battery for lighting.”

Partners in the project include Universitat Politechnica de Valenica, Accurec-Recycling, Sig de Raee Y Pilas Sociedad Limitada, Ona Product SL, Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia, Birmingham University, Fondazione Icons, Erion Energy, Erion Compliance Organization Scarl and Volkswagen Group Italia SPA.