How to reuse and recycle EV batteries: SK Innovation’s advices

SK Innovation has published on its website a long note about the way to reuse and recycle EV batteries. Starting from a simple fact of reality: while the world is making efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the complete vehicle industry is making the switch from an internal combustion engine business model to electric vehicles (EV). As EVs have become well-known as an eco-friendly means of transportation, the global sales for these vehicles are rapidly increasing. However, this increase in EV sales also means an increase in “used batteries” that are discharged from EVs.

According to the data released by the Ministry of Environment last year, the number of used batteries is expected to increase to around 100,000 units by the year 2030.  Also known as “waste batteries,” these used batteries are still highly useful even after they are discharged. Used batteries are important reusable resources rather than wastes. Let’s take a look at the growth prospects of the used battery market and how these used batteries can be reused or recycled.

These are the company’s recommendations:

1 | Used battery market to become “Land of Opportunities”

Used batteries are still rechargeable. This means that they can still be used as batteries for other purposes. Even if the remaining charging performance is so low that it cannot be used again, because used batteries contain lithium or nickel and other materials with high added value, they can still be used elsewhere. For this reason, used batteries are considered a resource with high added value. Hence, global companies are actively entering businesses that utilize used batteries, and the industry’s expectations on market growth is high as well.

2 | How to reuse and recycle EV batteries

In order to reuse used batteries, you would first have to determine how much charging performance is remaining. Once the remaining performance is confirmed through the battery evaluation process, a decision is made on whether the battery will be reused or recycled. Reusing and recycling may seem similar, but they are different. Reusing means the battery will be used as a battery for a different purpose. Recycling means the materials from the battery, such as nickel, manganese, lithium, etc., will be retrieved and used to create new batteries. If the used battery still has some charging performance remaining and can be used for another purpose, the “reuse” method is usually chosen. If the charging performance is highly depleted that it can no longer serve as a battery, it is disassembled, and the materials are extracted to be “recycled.”

One of the main cases for reusing used batteries is the ESS (energy storage system). This method involves connecting several used batteries that are bundled in packs to build an ESS and store and use power. The benefit of this method is that power storage can be established without having to create new batteries.

3 | How SK Innovation is reusing EV batteries?

SK Innovation is also making progress in the used battery reusing/recycling business. SK On, which is the battery business subsidiary of SK Innovation, built an ESS with a capacity of 300KWh (kilowatts per hour) by reusing 6 used batteries from the Kia Niro EV and is currently running a project to use this ESS at the SK Ecoplant apartment construction site located in Anyang, Gyeonggi-do. Through this project with SK Ecoplant, SK On will prove the durability, safety, battery efficiency, and power cost-saving effect of ESS made from used batteries of EVs alongside related institutions such as the Korea Electrical Safety Corporation.




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