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Where do discarded power batteries go from here?

Since the first large-scale use of electric buses in 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China's new energy vehicle industry has gone through a decade. During this decade, the scale of production and sales of new energy vehicles reached new highs repeatedly, which also drove the development of the power battery industry.

According to the survey data, from 2015 to 2017, new energy vehicles drove the large-scale shipment of upstream power batteries, with the total shipment volume exceeding 85GWh. According to the prediction of China automotive technology research center, from 2018 to 2020, the accumulative amount of scrapped power batteries in China will reach 120,000 to 200,000 tons, and by 2025, the accumulative amount will exceed 750,000 tons, with the market size exceeding 10 billion yuan.

With the growing size of the market should be relatively, power battery recycling mode in our country is not mature and evil people mixed up, industry has become a serious realistic problem, such as large-scale waste lithium ion battery if mishandled, not only waste a lot of valuable resources, hinder the sustainable development of industry, will also become a major hidden dangers, destroy the ecological environment endanger public health.

China has experienced losses in battery recycling management. Lead-acid batteries, for example, are used in many scenarios, including the start-up of automobile engines.

In his opinion, from the perspective of environmental protection and green and sustainable development, the recycling and traceability management of power batteries is of great significance. It is necessary to provide policy guidance in advance to establish an industrial system for the recycling and treatment of retired power batteries to ensure the healthy development of the whole new energy industrial chain.

Recycling is urgent

A 20-gram cell phone battery can pollute the water of 3 standard swimming pools. If abandoned on the land, it can pollute 1 square kilometer of land for about 50 years. Just think, if a few tons of electric vehicle power batteries are abandoned in the natural environment, a large number of heavy metals and chemicals into the nature, will cause much pollution to the environment.

Lithium ion power batteries contain lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and other metals due to different anode materials. From the perspective of environmental protection, if these metal materials are recycled improperly, they will cause heavy metal pollution and enter the human body through the biological chain.

Once the metal pollutes the soil, it will do more harm than the waste water pollution, and the simple organic pollution, the remediation cost of a square of soil is 600 ~ 1000 yuan, but do hexavalent chromium remediation of a square of soil needs 1 or 2 thousand yuan, and this only fixed the contaminated metal, reduce the activity of migration, has not completely removed the contaminated metal from the soil.

In addition to environmental pollution, if the power battery after a large number of retired without standard recycling treatment, there are still hidden dangers of public safety.

He said, if there is a short circuit inside or outside of the waste battery, the positive and negative poles will produce a large current and lead to high heat, causing positive and negative electrode combustion, due to the combustion of the electrolyte, in the case of rapid reaction will explode.

Recycling used power batteries is not only a technical and commercial problem, but also a social problem. Fuel cars to new energy vehicles from black to green, do a good job in battery recycling will get through the green back to green closed loop, did not do a good job, that is, from green back to black.

At the national, enterprise and research institute level, power battery recycling is a very urgent problem. The first batch of power batteries installed in 1,000 projects, public sector demonstrations and domestic electric vehicles in the past few years have reached the point of decommissioning. Although the number is not very large, what to do with them has attracted much attention.


Before the recycling of lithium iron phosphate, lithium ternary and other power battery materials for new energy vehicles, China has been in the field of battery recycling for many years, but the effect is not ideal.

In earlier years, under the driving of low-speed electric cars and other application scenario, has become the world's largest lead-acid battery market in our country, the national development and reform commission data show that in 2017, the production of 4.72 million tons of metal lead in our country, which accounts for about 44% of the world's total lead, effective as of August 1, 2016 of the new "national hazardous waste list", waste lead-acid batteries were identified as hazardous waste.

However, China's domestic scrap lead-acid battery about 6 million tons, showing a growing trend year by year, although the recovery rate is high, but in the process of recycling, storage, disposal, use, there are still a lot of environmental pollution phenomenon.

One of the important reasons is that China lacks a series of policy details such as recycling and transportation standards for used lead batteries and vehicle-mounted route control, so it is difficult to promote the extended producer responsibility system. As a result, there is nowhere to go for lead-containing hazardous waste produced by enterprises, which will lead to problems such as delayed stacking and even illegal transfer.

It is understood that the current national lead-acid battery enterprises to impose an additional 4 percent of the battery consumption tax, the original intention is to prevent and control pollution, but in the actual recycling process, the acquisition price of waste lead batteries and informal treatment compared to the small workshop at a disadvantage, making the formal enterprise competitiveness greatly weakened.

After the implementation of the 4% consumption tax on lead batteries, the company will be responsible for more than 10 million yuan of tax increase a year.

Under such market situation, a considerable part of waste lead-acid batteries flow to the "black market", which has also become the focus of the public security organs in recent years.

For example, in June 2017, the environmental protection and public security departments of tongzhou district, nantong, jiangsu, jointly cracked five cases of illegal dumping of waste lead-acid battery liquid waste. In January 2018, the public security department of Shanxi Province cracked down on a criminal gang that used used lead-acid batteries as raw materials to dismantle, smelt and sell lead ingots.

The amount of waste lead batteries recovered by the illegal recycling mode has dominated the recycling market for a long time, resulting in the increasingly narrow living space for legitimate recycling enterprises and the situation of "bad currency driving out good currency". This is a wake-up call for the current and future recycling of new energy power batteries.

New "tuyere"

Power battery recycling is a typical double-edged sword, improper disposal will cause ecological and environmental harm, but if orderly and standardized treatment, waste power battery recycling also contains a lot of business opportunities.

According to the general view of the industry, at present, China's new energy vehicles maintain the world's first position in terms of sales proportion and ownership, etc., and it is also a high probability event for the market share to continue to expand in the future, which provides a broad prospect for the recycling of power batteries.

Furthermore, cobalt, nickel, lithium carbonate and other elements in power batteries have great market value and can bring economic benefits for dismantling and recycling.

Different types of power batteries have different metal contents. According to the prediction of the scrap amount of power lithium-ion batteries in China in the future, by 2023, the market value of recyclable valuable metals can reach 7.3 billion yuan for cobalt, 8.4 billion yuan for nickel, 14.6 billion yuan for lithium and 850 million yuan for manganese.

Anzhanzhan industry research institute analyzed that China's lithium resources supply is limited, more than 90% of the demand is dependent on imports, and the waste batteries represented by lithium iron phosphate batteries, lithium content reached 1.10%, significantly higher than China's development and utilization of lithium ore.

Although recycling seems to be the end of the power battery industry chain, it is actually the source of the industry chain. Battery recycling makes the price of upstream raw materials controllable -- reducing cost -- ensuring resource supply -- revenue sharing -- healthy development of the industry.

According to the "power battery recycling industry report (2018)" released by China battery alliance, the market size of battery recycling will reach about 6.5 billion yuan in 2020. Later, with the arrival of the peak of battery scrapping, the market size will soon exceed 10 billion yuan.

It is the observation of the power battery recycling economy industry opportunities, the state and the relevant authorities have also started the power battery recycling system construction, encourage the development of the battery recycling market, which makes the relevant enterprises have to join the ranks of battery recycling.

According to the battery alliance, the number of power battery recycling enterprises has exceeded 400 in 2018. The number of new power battery enterprises in the first quarter of 2018 alone is the same as that in the whole of 2016.

In addition to the rise of battery recycling enterprises, under the system requirements of the competent departments and driven by the market, many complete vehicle enterprises have also joined the ranks of battery recycling. Changan, byd, baic new energy, zhidou and other complete vehicle enterprises are all in the process of action, and have begun intensive cooperation with battery recycling enterprises to build a preliminary recycling system.

Real problem

Although China's power battery recycling industry has started, but in the actual work, there are still many specific problems.

On the one hand, from the technical point of view, China's power battery recycling has some technical difficulties to be breakthrough.

According to expert introduction, is the core of technical difficulties, there are two, one is the design of the power battery pack (group) is varied, the internal and external structure of the battery pack design, module connection mode, different process technology, battery types of complicated structure, the life of the battery status also has diversity, which creates a disassembly difficulty.

The second is the cascade utilization and regeneration utilization of power batteries. There is still no mature technology route in the aspects of residual value evaluation of retired batteries, compatibility treatment of a variety of batteries, recovery of materials such as cathode, etc.

On the other hand, from the perspective of cost, at present, the decommissioning volume of power batteries has not fully formed the scale, making it difficult for enterprises to achieve the scale effect, leading to the difficulty in making profits


Contact: Geely Zhang

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