China

"China Retired Power Battery Recycling and Industrial Development Report" was released in November 2019. The report is prepared by the Institute of Process Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Technical Alliance for Resource Recycling Industry Technology Innovation Strategy. The report offers a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of China's end of life battery recycling industry [1]. The following highlights were translated and summarized:

Current status of China’s Battery Manufacturing Industry

China's installed power battery capacity reached 57 GWh in 2018, of which NMC battery production was 30.74 GWh, accounting for 53.9% of the total installed capacity. The top ten power battery companies based on installed capacity in 2018 are: Ningde Times, BYD, Hefei Guoxuan, Lishen, Funeng Technology, BAK, Yiwei Lithium Energy, Beijing Guoneng Energy, AVIC Lithium Power, and Carnai New Energy. Those companies account for 83% of the total installed capacity.

The cost of raw materials for power batteries accounts for 50-70% of the total cost. The large consumption of metals and graphite resources has brought tremendous pressure to global suppliers, especially for lithium and cobalt. In 2016, 75% domestic (46% worldwide) lithium and 76.6% domestic (44% worldwide) cobalt were used in lithium-ion battery production in China. As the production capacity of power batteries continues to increase, primary resources are rapidly consumed, but the recovery of secondary resources has not reached the corresponding level. Taking cobalt as an example, from 2014 to 2016, the output of primary ore resources increased 4.75 times, but the recovery amount only increased 23%. 

Progress of Waste Power Battery Reuse & Recycle Industry

At present, the industrial chain of the waste power battery recycling industry is taking shape, including recycling companies established by battery and EV manufacturers and third-party utilization companies. In 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued and implemented the "Regulations on the Comprehensive Utilization of Waste Energy and Power Storage Battery for New Energy Vehicles." Its main goal is to actively foster investments in the battery industry and encourage support for the development of recycling technologies and processes. The standard specifies [2] :

  • Reuse of qualified battery packs and components before recycling;

  • Hydrometallurgical recycling efficiency higher than 98% for nickel, cobalt and manganese;

  • Pyrometallurgical recycling efficiency higher than 97% for nickel, cobalt and manganese;

  • No dumping, landfilling or incineration allowed for untreated waste;

The standard has acted as a guideline for the battery companies. In 2018, five companies were able to meet the new standards: Brunp, GEM, GH Tech Taili, and Huayou Cobalt [3]. Among the five companies it is worth noting that Brunp has developed automatic dismantling equipment for power battery modules. GEM is the largest recycler in China and owns automated recycling lines. GH Tech has developed complete EoL processing lines including battery reuse technology and factories located in different Chinese cities.

Besides recycling, the process of “Step utilization” has been developed for reusing as shown in Figure. After the power battery is scrapped, it is necessary to evaluate its safety, residual life and other related parameters before it can be reused. Although there are demonstration projects in commercial energy storage, low-speed electric vehicles, grid energy storage, etc. reuse is still difficult and costly due to the uneven distribution of the capacity of the waste power battery, battery size specifications, battery internal structure, material type, etc . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure. Process of “Step Utilization” for Battery Reusing [4]

 

Policy Development for Power Battery Recycling

With the joint promotion of the State Council, the Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and other departments, China has issued a series of policies, such as “Implementation Plan for the Extended Producer Responsibility System” and “Interim Measures for the Management of Recycling and Utilization of New Energy Vehicle Power Batteries”. It is planned that before the large-scale decommissioning of power batteries, a mature battery recycling system will be established, and a highly coordinated industrial chain based on the extended producer responsibility system will be established. These policies have played an important role in guiding the normative development of the waste power battery recycling industry, and have provided important guarantees for the sustainable development of the new energy vehicle industry. 

According to the Extended Producer Responsibility System, automobile manufacturers and power battery manufacturers have a clear responsibility for recycling. However, how to clearly define the division of labor and establish an operable and popularizable operation mode for decommissioned batteries is still in the exploration and pilot stage.

 

References:

[1] Institute of Process Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Technical Alliance for Resource Recycling Industry Technology Innovation Strategy, “China Retired Power Battery Recycling Technology and Industrial Development Report,” 27-Nov-2019. [Online]. Available: http://chuneng.bjx.com.cn/news/20191127/1024000.shtml. [Accessed: 12-Dec-2019].

[2] Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, “List of companies that meet the ‘Regulations for the Comprehensive Utilization of New Energy Vehicle Waste Power Battery Industry,’” Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China, 03-Sep-2018. [Online]. Available: http://www.miit.gov.cn/n1146295/n1652858/n1652930/n4509607/c5360250/content.html. [Accessed: 12-Dec-2019].

[3] Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, “‘Industrial Regulation Conditions for Comprehensive Utilization of New Energy Vehicle Waste Power Batteries’ and ‘Interim Measures for the Management of Comprehensive Utilization of New Energy Vehicle Waste Power Battery Industry Specifications,’” Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China, 02-Feb-2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.miit.gov.cn/n1146295/n1652858/n1652930/n4509607/c6365599/content.html. [Accessed: 12-Dec-2019].

[4] Xinhuanet Co. , Ltd., “China Retired Power Battery Recycling Technology and Industrial Development Report,” Xinhuanet Client, 2017. [Online]. Available: http://baijiahao.baidu.com/s?id=1652401906047636327&wfr=spider&for=pc. [Accessed: 12-Dec-2019].

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