Infinitev program to reduce electric vehicle battery waste

INNOVATIVE Mechatronics Group (IM Group) has announced Australia’s first hybrid and electric vehicle battery recycling program which aims to ensure that end-of-life batteries are reused, repurposed and recycled as part of a sustainable circular economy.

Dubbed Infinitiev, the program hopes to change what IM Group calls a “take-make-waste” approach to electrified vehicle (EV) batteries.

IM Group says most electric vehicle batteries are “defective” after losing between 20 and 30 percent of their capacity, because a small number of depleted cells can render the entire battery inoperable.

As part of its Infinitev program, the company says it can reuse, reuse and recycle these packs, significantly reducing waste; it estimates that 206 GWh of automotive batteries will become waste by the end of the decade, roughly equivalent to the batteries powering three million electric vehicles.

In most cases, batteries have 70% of their life when removed from vehicles, but they are currently discarded as they are considered consumable parts.

Moreover, less than one percent of the lithium used in batteries worldwide is currently recycled. While Infinitiev admits there are limits to what can be done economically and sustainably, it says steps are already underway to ensure that up to 70-80% of all lithium used in electric vehicle batteries are recycled.

Speaking to the media gathered for the launch of the Infinitev program in Melbourne this week, Infinitev Managing Director Dickson Leow said IM Group’s offer is unique to the Australian market and includes an in-depth procedure for management of EV batteries at end of life.

“Infinitiev is unique in what it offers the automotive industry in the recovery and repair of faulty or end-of-life hybrid and electric batteries,” he said.

Mr. Leow went on to describe the program as “the only service provider in the industry to offer a three-pronged program that takes into account battery reuse, reuse and recycling opportunities, as well as the benefits of the economy. circular”.

“Infinitev can improve an organization’s environmental and sustainability credentials and eliminate waste,” he added.

Leow said the automotive-specific programs offered by Infinitiev will serve OEM and associate dealer networks, as well as independent workshops.

By remanufacturing disused battery packs from hybrid and electric vehicles, transforming batteries that are no longer suitable for vehicular use into energy storage systems, or recovering valuable materials for reuse in the creation of new batteries, it strives to reduce the problem of waste generated by electric vehicles. .

“To help workshops meet the needs of their hybrid battery customers, Infinitev’s Hybrid Battery Refurbished Exchange Project offers Australia’s first scalable component reuse and resource recovery program for batteries. removed from hybrid electric vehicles,” he explained.

“Until now, a hybrid battery has been considered a single-use part, but Infitiev’s ability to identify and repair batteries that are faulty, slow to charge, or no longer operating at an efficient level gives these batteries a second life. .

“In addition, Infinitiev can reuse batteries that are no longer suitable for automotive applications as an energy storage system. Developed in partnership with Sustainability Victoria, this plug-and-play industrial-grade energy system provides reliable energy peak reduction, load leveling and potential off-grid powering.

Mr Leow said that in the event the batteries were depleted to the point of no longer holding any charge, they could be recycled to provide materials for building new batteries, thereby reducing the need for new materials to be sourced by contractors. traditional means.

“The auto industry has traditionally sourced materials from the earth to make hybrid and EV batteries, ultimately disposing of the defective product as waste,” he said.

“Infinitiev is partnering with the automotive industry and other stakeholders to create a sustainable circular economy for electric vehicle batteries.

“When batteries reach the end of their life and cannot be reused or reused, Infinitiev partners with industry-leading recycling programs to recover valuable materials used to create new batteries.”

Leow said current data shows hybrid and EV batteries begin to degrade on average from about six years old. Many will blame 70% of their remaining life, which he says makes him the ideal candidate for the Infinitiev program.

From 10 failing batteries, the Infinitiev program can put six or seven back on the road, with the remaining cells then being reused or recycled.

Those that cannot be returned to service in electric vehicles can be reused in a BESS (Battery Energy Storage System) for industrial use, with the average 120 kWh system preventing up to 42.8 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year (at the source of electricity generation), or 95.5 tons when coupled with a solar generator.

Beyond the environmental impact, a 120 kWh BESS can save businesses around $18,500 a year on electricity costs – and cover operations in the event of a power outage.

Currently, Infinitiev can reuse up to 50 hybrid or EV battery units per month, but new installations coming online in New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and New Zealand will carry that number to 80 units or more, depending on the pace of future demand. .

The process also covers a wide range of battery types, including NMC, NCA and LFP, as well as future sulfur-based batteries and solid state arrays.

“We need to prepare now before the exponential increase in the number of electric vehicles arrives,” Mr Leow said.

Infinitiev’s remanufactured batteries come with a three-year/40,000 km warranty and, according to Leow, can be supplied and installed for much less than the price of an original part.

“To use a Toyota Prius as an example, a new battery from the OEM will cost you around $3,000,” said Leow, who went on to describe the two options Infinitev offers.

“The first would be a comparable spare battery at around $2,500, with a three-year/200,000 km warranty,” he explained.

“While the last option, using the circular economy process where we have a working remanufactured battery, will only cost around $2,000, with a three-year/40,000 km warranty.”

Leow was quick to dispel the safety concerns of using recycled batteries, saying all Infinitiev products are remanufactured to OEM standards.

“We use best practices. So we’re working with our international companies in the US and Europe to make sure that whatever standards they’re using, we’re adopting those same standards, and we’re working with the ABR (Australian Battery Recycling) initiative to guarantee the best recycling practices. too,” he explained.

IM Group aims to have its Infinitiev program fully operational by March 2024.

Ryan H. Bowman