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KlausPuetz
Associate
Associate
This article describes typical challenges in EV battery recycling from a technology company’s point of view (here: Botree Cycling) and indicates which SAP solution capabilities will be required.

In recent years electric vehicles (EV) have become very popular and the number of EVs on the road reaches new heights year by year. Especially in energy storage, and also other different use case scenarios, batteries have become widespread. They are recognized as one of the main pillars of de-carbonization and environmental sustainability.

Along with this brilliant future, some challenges come from batteries at the end of their lifecycle. In a couple of years, we will encounter a wave of batteries reaching the end of their lifecycle. Without efficient recycling capabilities, batteries will not fulfill sustainability goals.

Batteries contain valuable raw materials which have become short and expensive due to high demand, political uncertainties, and lack of reliable global supply chains. Therefore, battery manufacturers have become more interested in recycled materials from regional sources and battery recycling is picking up speed.

Also, governments have recognized this challenge. To reach sustainability goals and to avoid scrapping of spent batteries, EU and other countries have set up regulations to enforce recycling of raw materials, e.g., cobalt, nickel, lithium.


Figure 1 Circularity of EV batteries


The goal is to set up a circular economy for batteries and their ingredients. Effective and efficient recycling technologies, a marketplace for recycled materials and capable business solutions will be crucial to support all business processes and statutory regulations.

Botree’s battery recycling technology


Botree Cycling (hereinafter referred to as “Botree”) was founded in 2019 with the aim to build a sustainable future for critical battery materials by innovative recycling technologies, and help global recyclers design, upgrade, and manage battery recycling operations safely, quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. They’re committed to tackle the three major challenges in the battery value chain, namely large reliance on virgin raw materials, considerable greenhouse gas emissions during battery production (specially the upstream processes), and non-proper handling of end-of-life batteries.

Battery recycling technologies can be categorized into three main pathways, i.e., pyrometallurgical, hydrometallurgical, and direct recycling, as illustrated below. They’re distinguished by different technological routes, process complexity and generated products.


Figure 2 Different recycling technology pathways


Botree focuses on the equipment and process innovation of hydrometallurgical and direct recycling routes, as technically they can achieve shorter process steps and lower environmental impact. Through many years’ research and development, Botree has already successfully developed and implemented worldwide industrial applications, in China, Europe and the US.

Safety issues during spent battery transportation, chemical consumption, and large wastewater generation during hydrometallurgical process and secondary pollution accompanied with battery recycling are still major concerns for the recycling industry, where Botree’s solutions are trying to solve.

  • Botree has developed the world’s 1st mobile battery shredder. Integrated in a standard container, the equipment is easily transported almost everywhere. Battery cells can be shredded without discharging, and the generated products are encapsulated in an oxygen-free environment to ensure safety. All the emitted gases have gone through the exhaust gas treatment system to 100% meet the standard emission requirements.

  • The ultra-short pCAM production solution for NCM Batteries can achieve one step simultaneous extraction of Mn, Co and Ni. The new process can lower the operational cost and its carbon footprint by 5-20% and 6-8% respectively.

  • Compared to NCM batteries, LFP batteries have much lower economic value, since lithium contributes most of the value inside. Recycling lithium alone definitely cannot comply with the new EU battery regulation and will generate a large number of solid wastes. To overcome this issue, and realize closed-loop recycling for LFP batteries, Botree has developed and industrialized the full LFP cathode components recycling process, which can regenerate iron and phosphate into battery grade products.

  • Direct recycling is an ideal process for manufacturing scraps, as it has a much shorter process and consumes much less chemicals. The recycled materials from the laboratory, pilot and batch test all have demonstrated very promising results – their performances are as good as the new battery materials.



Figure 3 Botree innovative recycling solutions


Other than the technology, there are many aspects that can help to increase the battery recycling efficiencies, e.g., the information on the battery location, battery status, chemistry, doping elements, battery historical usage data, etc. Meanwhile, the control of process parameters onsite is also crucial to ensure a stable operation. All the above-mentioned can only be achieved with a modern IT solution for data tracking, processing and storage.

SAP solution capabilities for battery recycling


Beyond technical recycling operations, recycling companies must deal with topics on the business side to manage and control the technical process and their E2E recycling value chain. They will need a reliable and capable business solution (IT) landscape connected with operations (OT).

SAP’s solution portfolio provides capabilities for diverse business requirements and regulations across E2E value chain for battery recycling (see Figure 4 Value Chain for EV battery recycling):

Supply. Join the SAP business network to source your End of Life (EoL) batteries. Manage purchasing contracts and orders with your vendors.

Logistics. Batteries are hazardous materials. Therefore, logistics must verifiably fulfill and document safety rules for transportation and storage. When receiving EOL batteries, they need to fulfill quality standards, contractually agreed with supplier. Transportation, Warehouse Management and EHS solutions in SAP make sure that rules are fulfilled during logistics planning and execution to ensure environment, health and safety standards.


Figure 4 Value Chain for EV battery recycling


Mechanical Recycling and Refining + Active Material Production. Regardless, if you own feedstock or just process feedstock on behalf of automotive OEMs, SAP enables you for either type of stock accounting and for traceability of EoL batteries and their recycled materials.
SAP solutions enable planning, execution, and visibility of recycling activities, e.g., capture energy consumption and recycling yields to understand production costs and to measure efficiency and overall success.
Once a battery has passed mechanical recycling, the corresponding status in battery passport is updated to reflect that battery life has ended. Also, automotive OEMs need an update about what happened to their batteries: Link serial numbers of shredded batteries with batch information from recycled materials.
Refining + Active Material Production steps into chemical processing which typically comes with different business requirements from process industry, e.g., batch management. For this SAP offers a fully integrated solution for chemical planning, development, and execution.
Capturing credible emissions data is key for companies to take targeted decarbonization actions across their supply chains and measure progress over time. Companies need to be able to understand the real impact of their operations to reduce this as they cannot manage what they cannot measure. SAP offers a carbon accounting solution capturing accurate, granular, and comparable data and concluding a carbon footprint. Carbon data is passed down the value chain.

Sell. According to EU regulations, battery manufacturers must use a mandatory minimum level of recycled content for their EV battery production. Therefore, recycled materials are of specific value for battery manufacturers to meet statutory regulations. SAP solutions provide verifiable transparency into sustainable material sourcing and will help your customers to make new batteries from recycled materials.
Use SAP business network platform for circular economy to sell recycled materials into the battery cycle and to finally close it.

SAP offers a fully integrated business solution for battery recycling companies. It allows delivery in the cloud, enabling companies to pick solution capabilities considering their needs and priorities. It will cope with individual capability and capacity needs. Scale your SAP solution as you grow.


Figure 5 SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise Architecture


Through active participation in initiatives, e.g., Catena-X, Global Battery Alliance, World Business Council for Sustainability Development, SAP is a thought leader in relevant future topics and is fully aware of relevant industry issues and needs.

Take-aways


Advanced onsite recycling technology plus modern IT tracking and management systems are the best combination to tackle battery recycling issues, realizing a clean, efficient, and truly closed-loop recycling.

Botree and SAP are bringing better solutions to the industry:

  • Spent battery transportation issue, though difficult, can be effectively solved by leveraging on SAP’s solution on logistic for battery state and location tracking, and Botree’s mobile shredding solution for diminishing potential risks.

  • High chemical consumption, large wastewater volume, and secondary pollution are still hindering the sustainable development of the industry, where advanced recycling technology and precise process control system are the key enabler. Botree and SAP are combining their strengths to better tackle those issues.

  • Beyond their own recycling operations, recycling companies must fulfill diverse statutory regulations, e.g., emissions management, recycling yields, battery passport. They need to report results to automotive OEMs as they are part of a wider industry value chain. SAP’s solutions control the E2E value chain, enabling full transparency in the recycling process, its transactions, and results, to be compliant with external stakeholders.