China will launch a pilot electric vehicle battery recycling scheme

 In Batteries

China represents the biggest EV market in the world. In 2017 China was the country that purchased the highest number of EV with 579,000 vehicles sold.

A huge number if we consider that the 2nd country on this list was the US with “only” 198,350 number of new cars last year.

According to China Money Network’s, the six major companies operating in China where WM Motor, BAIC BJEV, Xiaopeng Motors, Byton and Youxia, which had a combined valuation of about US $20 billion.

However, the overall market is even bigger than that as it comprises of more than 100 other companies, producing around 350 different models of vehicle in the first part of 2018.

With such an expanding market, it’s understandable how the country is putting in place plans to create a vehicle battery recycling scheme.

Battery Waste Problem

China government has been vigilant of the possible “EV Bubble”. However the expansion of the market remains huge, and it’s expected that China’s EV output will reach 2 million in 2020.

As a result of this, the battery market is also flourishing. State news agency Xinhua explained in a recent report that China produced 37.35 million kilowatt hours of NEV (New Energy Vehicles) batteries last year, with overall prices declining by a quarter to about 1.45 yuan ($0.2143) per watt-hour.

The backlash of this expanding industry has a downside indeed: battery waste.

Experts have warned that annual lithium battery waste could reach around 170,000 tonnes by 2020. This means that new large amounts of battery cell components will have to be correctly processed and disposed of, or ideally recycled.

Recycling battery components can be a challenging process. Lead and lithium, if not treated correctly can be heavy pollutants. Inappropriate extraction of lithium and cobalt can be dangerous and release toxic gases.

Also, if the necessary precautions are not taken, battery waste could end up in landfills with the risk of contaminating the soil and aquifers.

China’s plans to contrast pollution

In an official statement this summer, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology states how cities and regions should encourage car manufacturers to establish recycling service structures. They should also promote collaborations with battery producers, scrap merchants and dealers and to build regional recycling points.

This pilot EV battery recycling scheme will start in 17 cities and regions including the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Shanxi Province and Shanghai.

The ministry plan is to revise the entire industrial chain to ensure that those EV batteries were recovered. The aim is also to control new companies involved in battery recycling, to optimize the use of already existing facilities and promote sustainable development of the sector.

The ministry has also pledged the introduction of tax incentives and innovative new financing methods to facilitate the process. Draft rules to create a “traceability management platform” to monitor each battery life cycle, from production to disposal, were released.

Possibilities for the future

Probably not many people know that a retired car battery still has at least 70% of its capacity. This residual capacity make EV batteries a good alternative for home energy storage systems if properly handled, tested, and repackaged.

This kind of approach could support many new business models based on cutting operating costs and lower demand for raw materials.

With a growing EV market, China has an excellent opportunity to promote innovative solutions, especially when it comes to creating new sustainable recycling battery systems.

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