Second life or recycling

The question is on the minds of everyone who is interested in e-mobility: What happens to the battery when an e-vehicle has reached the end of its service life? The answer is simple: The new analysis software BattMan ReLife checks their state of health in just a few minutes.

Starting immediately, the quick check system will be used as a means of initial diagnosis in battery recycling at the pilot plant that Volkswagen Group Components has been operating in Salzgitter since the beginning of the year.

Depending on the capacity that the inspection system detects, a high-voltage battery may be reused in a vehicle either in whole or in part, receive a second life as a mobile or stationary energy reservoir, or the material might be returned to cell production by means of an innovative recycling process.

The first version of the BattMan (Battery Monitoring Analysis Necessity) software was developed by the Audi Brussels quality management department for the quick and reliable analysis of Audi e-tron’s high-voltage battery.

BattMan then underwent further development in cooperation with recycling experts at Volkswagen Group Components prior to the opening of the pilot plant for battery recycling in Salzgitter. After several months of programming and testing, BattMan ReLife emerged as the new analysis solution that provides a reliable first assessment of a battery in just a few minutes to help set its further course.

Previously, this process took several hours. After plugging in the low-voltage connectors, the device first checks whether the battery is even able to communicate and transfer data. The system then detects and displays any error messages as well as insulation resistance, capacity, temperatures, and cell voltages. This lets the user determine a battery’s overall state of health.

Now three options are on the table. The first is so-called remanufacturing, a process by which the battery, due to its good or very good state of health, can be reprocessed for further use as a replacement part for e-vehicles after undergoing repair work reflecting its current market value.

In the second option, a battery receives its“second life” when it has a medium-level to good state of health that will permit its continued use outside an e-vehicle for years to come. This might be in a flexible quick charging station, a mobile charging robot, a driverless transportation system, or a forklift as well as in a home storage or emergency standby power system.

The third option entails efficient recycling in the Volkswagen Group Components pilot plant in Salzgitter, where mechanical processes gently dismantle only the most completely exhausted of batteries into their basic materials.