The third edition of our webinar series Short Circuit brought together reverse logistics experts to discuss current and future trends in battery dismantling.

Rose Gregorio from EIT Urban Mobility kicked things off with an introduction to the BatteReverse project, followed by a presentation from Xavier Kohll (Circu Li-ion) on the state of the art in battery dismantling from an industrial perspective. He highlighted the current challenges and potential solutions related to automated disassembly for EV batteries. Kohll discussed the challenges arising from the varying designs in the market, exemplified by different lid and sealing approaches. Additionally, he mentioned the need for flexible tools required for the disassembly process and demonstrated how complex computer and robotic detection and visualisation can be used in the environment surrounding the EV battery disassembly. The presentation also emphasised the considerable progress made in semi-automated and automated disassembly, with disassembly times now falling below two hours.

Philipp Zeng (Bax), the moderator of the panel discussion, then   introduced the panel speakers. The panel consisted of experts in the battery dismantling field from both industry and academia, including Dr. Xavier Kohll (CircuLi-ion), Jef Peeters (KU Leuven), and Tero Kaarlela (Centria University of Applied Sciences).

Key highlights from the discussion include:

State of the Art  challenges and enablers

The panel discussion began by delving into the current challenges and enablers in the state-of-the-art (SotA) automated battery disassembly. Jef Peeters from highlighted that the increasing diversity in battery designs will render the development of individual remanufacturing lines economically unfeasible. Xavier Kohll expressed optimism about the forthcoming EU battery passport, anticipating substantial advancements. He also pointed out that their library already houses over 400 distinct battery designs.

Artificial intelligence and ease of disassembly

Tero Kaarlela pointed out the urgent need for data availability, stating that the effectiveness of AI systems depends on the ability to share data. He advocated for EU regulations to support this trend. Jef Peeters highlighted their efforts in developing assessment methods and advancing human-robot collaborations to meet this need. He elaborated on the "Ease of Disassembly" method, which provides a standardised way to evaluate how easily a product can be disassembled. Peeters warned against focusing solely on pack design. Xavier Kohll concurred, adding that EU regulations should encourage innovation and aim for the EU's resource independence through recycling quotas.

Safety and depth of disassembly

Tero Kaarlela explained the challenge of unergonomic work due to heavy safety gear required for workers. Nonetheless, he deemed the current process as safe and pointed out the transfer of work from human workers to robots through video-assisted learning. Xavier Kohll mentioned that LMT batteries pose fewer safety concerns due to their lower voltage levels. Jef Peeters agreed and highlighted an educational gap, noting the need for training and retraining expert personnel to handle EV batteries safely. Xavier Kohll suggested prioritising the automation of time-consuming processes while allowing humans to manage less time-intensive tasks. Peeters added that most disassembly processes typically stop at the module level, as going down to the cell level often doesn't add significant value, although there are exceptions. He also noted the crucial role of manufacturers in the value chain. Kaarlela concluded that a degree of standardisation in battery design would be beneficial.

Future outlook for battery disassembly

Xavier Kohll anticipates a large amount of semi-automated disassembly practices in the coming years, combined with advancements in software developments for better robotic performance. Jef Peeters added that he hopes for a more structured process, placing the human operator at the centre, and called for greater involvement from OEMs in collaborative eco-design efforts. Tero Kaarlela agreed with these statements and stressed the urgent need for faster software advancements.

You can rewatch the recording of the session on the Battereverse Community platform.

REGISTER FOR THE NEXT SHORT CIRCUIT: Our next webinar on the battery passport and data management will take place on Tuesday October 15th!