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This is how Bebat ensures that EV batteries are collected safely

In the past six years, over 10,000 EV batteries have come in at Bebat via its subsidiary, Sortbat. Whoppers that can weigh up to 300 kilograms. How does Bebat ensure that these batteries are safely collected and transported? We asked Katrien Busselot, Logistics & Recycling Manager at Bebat. 

In the past few years, a stream of EV batteries has got off the ground as the first-generation EV batteries began to give up the ghost. Most of them are nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries. Absolute whoppers, because the battery of a plug-in hybrid can easily weigh 90 to 150 kilos and that of a full electric car 300 kilos. Some are faulty or damaged, others have reached the end of their useful life. At that point, they no longer have sufficient capacity to be used as traction batteries.

EV batterie

Meticulous aftercare

But they are not yet ‘dead dead’. They contain raw materials such as cobalt, nickel and lithium, which can be recovered. Some batteries can be repaired and sent back out on the road. Or begin a second life in other applications, such as storing solar energy.

The aftercare phase for EV batteries starts at the end of the first life. This ‘care’ phase really says it all, because EV batteries have to be meticulously collected, transported and dismantled, says Katrien Busselot, Logistics and Recycling Manager at Bebat. 

Is it always clear what type of battery it is?

Katrien Busselot: ‘The collector/carrier needs to know what type of battery it is. Those getting rid of the battery usually know the chemical composition: nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion for EVs. This latter type of battery is subject to European ADR regulations (Accord européen relatif au transport international des marchandises Dangereuses par Route - the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road). Specific ADR regulations apply, including rules on the way the battery is packaged and the routes via which this transportation can take place.

For example: ADR stipulates that ‘as packaging, a box should be used that contains sufficient non-conductive insulating material.’ Bebat uses vermiculite (a mineral) for this, but tests are also being conducted with sand (which is relatively heavy) and rockwool. The carrier is jointly responsible for complying with the ADR legislation. In Belgium, this is a regional matter. So it is checked by inspectors from the region.

 



The EV batteries heading to an approved recycling company are considered hazardous waste

 

What state is the battery in, precisely?

While it is usually fairly easy to determine the type of battery, its exact condition is much harder to assess. A battery pack consists of cells packed together. A few defective cells can mean that the whole battery no longer works properly. At first sight, it is often not possible to determine precisely what's wrong. But it’s important to know.

Katrien Busselot: “Before we go and fetch the battery, we send a checklist to the person getting rid of the battery, and that certainly is the case if there is any doubt. Because it is important to know (for example) whether or not the EV battery is damaged, after an accident for instance, as this will determine the way the next steps are carried out. Damaged batteries are sorted on the basis of whether they are critical or not critical. It is not always easy to determine whether a battery is actually damaged. If necessary, our experts go to the location for an assessment.’

Aftercare service from A to Z

Safety during transport is the priority after dismantling, as well. ‘The EV batteries heading to an approved recycling company are considered hazardous waste. So they have to be collected by a recognised, registered IHM waste collector and transported by a recognised battery carrier. The customer has absolutely nothing to worry about in this respect: we only work with ‘safe’ contractors and offer a total aftercare service. Or just the services the customer requires. It’s always customised.’

Are you involved with EV batteries professionally? The Bebat safety, high-voltage and ADR experts will be happy to answer all your questions about batteries. Send an e-mail to emobility@bebat.be.

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