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Wornout Battery Environmental Impact and Recycling

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by howardc64, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. howardc64

    howardc64 Member

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    #1 howardc64, Dec 29, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2013
    Its probably a bit early for us Model S owners to think about the worn out batteries. But there are various quotes of how battery is even worse for the environment than fossil fuel (I know its a natural scare tactic and scientifically quite hard to believe given the consequences of burning fossil fuel) So I thought I dig around a bit for info. Members with battery refurbishment background/experience and material engineers/chemists can probably provide much enlightenment here.

    What I've found so far is

    - EU have tough regulatory requirements. Recycling+repurposing effort probably leads in EU?
    - I've read lots of DIYers refurbishing Honda/Toyota Hybrid batteries. Usually only a small number of cells are bad and creates an imbalance in supply. Just have to swap those out to regain a fully usage battery. This is for NiMH and for hybrids which don't necessary need all of its capacity for range. It is a rather dangerous procedure however. Have to know what you are doing around high voltage electricity.
    - Used up Li-ion EV batteries can be repurposed for secondary usage (storing energy for solar/wind generators etc..)
    - A company called Toxco that seems to be North American leader for Li-ion battery recycling
    - Recovering cobalt and nickel from Li-ion cells seems to be the key recovery at this time. There is the Aluminum+plastic casing etc. Lithium is a small percentage and costly to recover at this time.

    Here are some links

    The Lithium Battery Recycling Challenge - Waste Management World
    http://www.istc.illinois.edu/about/SeminarPresentations/20111115.pdf
    Lithium Battery Recycling, Alkaline Battery Recycling, GSA Recycling Program - TOXCO Inc.

    Anyhow, would love to hear from more materials+chemistry+battery rebuild knowledgeable folks.
     
  2. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Solar City is geared up to use Model S batteries that aren't useful in the Model S any more. They will likely have an additional 10 to 15 year life. After that, they can be recycled for materials. Batteries of all kinds are the products with the longest and highest percentage of recycling. It's really a non-issue.
     
  3. Raffy.Roma

    Raffy.Roma Active Member

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    Agree. That's why IMO SolarCity should be present in the Tesla Web Site (also the European Web Site) and at least offer options that could be included in the purchase of the Model S. Don't you think so?
     
  4. jhs_7645

    jhs_7645 VIN: #3305

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  5. howardc64

    howardc64 Member

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    #5 howardc64, Dec 30, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2013
    Cool, thanks for the old link and the pointers provided by the article. Only have been following Tesla closely for last couple of months since getting our Model S :)

    The article note a closed loop recycling effort with KinsburskyBrothers (partnered with Toxco) and the European (Belgium) advanced materials group Umicore. Glad to know these batteries are recycled properly already. And its still quite early, I would guess recycling processes will continue to improve for lower cost/impact and recovery/reusable rate.
     
  6. 100thMonkey

    100thMonkey Member

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    I have my doubts about the usefulness of repurposing batteries, but after reading up on Li-ion recycling, I am fully confident that the overall process is generally negligible in terms of it's effect on the environment, certainly compared to petroleum.
     
  7. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    Anyone know if that old Tesla blog is still accurate?
     
  8. howardc64

    howardc64 Member

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    #8 howardc64, Dec 31, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
    Don't see any more details from Tesla. Searched for these partner names in the last 2 Tesla quarterly report and found nothing. But it would seem worn battery packs are not so abundant at this time?

    I did find more interesting info after more googling for second life use and recycling companies and reviewing their financial info :)

    Second life Use

    Tesla is partnered with SolarCity as noted above. GM is partnered with ABB and Nissan has a JV with Sumitomo called 4R Energy.

    http://energystoragejournal.com/second-life/

    4R Energy's website has real residential and commercial stationary reuse packs for sale on their website. According to the timeline on their website, introduction and field test started this year

    Products | 4R ENERGY 4R Energy Corporation
    Business Model | 4R ENERGY 4R Energy Corporation

    ABB is a Swiss headquarters $40B annual revenue company specializing in power supply infrastructure and automation. Revenues are split pretty evenly between EU/NA/Asia. ABB's Power Systems and Power Products division produce nearly 40% of the revenue. Don't have much more detail than this but certainly a large player very involved in power delivery and supply systems.

    Our businesses | ABB

    ABB Q3: Solid performance across the business


    As for SolarCity, they appears to be busy installing solar panels :)

    http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/AMDA-14LQRE/2871131930x0x704105/7f6837b0-f36a-4821-a05a-eb8c029991d5/SolarCity%203Q13%20EarningsPresentation%20Final.pdf

    Recycling

    Toxco is renamed to Retriev Technologies. Same person seems to be the president of Toxco/Retriev and KinsburskyBrothers Inc. Both seems to be small companies with $5-$15M annual revenue.

    Retriev Technologies Incorporated Profile - Anaheim, CA 92801-1214 - Headquarters Location 32400272
    Lithium Battery Recycling, Alkaline Battery Recycling, GSA Recycling Program - TOXCO Inc.
    Kinsbursky Brothers, Inc. - Company Profile by Insideview

    Umicore is about 2.5B Euro annual revenue. Recycling division is about 700M Euro annually. Not sure what is the break down on the materials recycled.

    Investor Relations
    Investor Relations

    A couple thoughts from this info

    - Second life usage aims at a stationary applications where lower energy/weight ratio is acceptable like commercial energy storage or backup. Backup systems would probably need to compete with the good old petroleum engines in generators once again :)

    - Looks like there is a lot more money in power supply than recycling which probably make sense. So while recycling is the naturally focus by us consumers. Repurposing for commercial use is potentially bigger business and probably even more ECO friendly intermediate step than recycling.
     
  9. omgwtfbyobbq

    omgwtfbyobbq Member

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    I think saying it's rather dangerous is an exaggeration at best. It's kinda difficult to electrocute yourself on a hybrid pack, or at least a Prius pack. You can, but you have to deliberately grab opposite ends of the pack. Come to think of it, I've never heard of anyone being electrocuted by a hybrid pack.

    http://techno-fandom.org/~hobbit/cars/batbox/
     
  10. GSP

    GSP Member

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    The Prius battery is about 300 V, which is well above the 50-60 V required to be lethal. No one should open one up without high voltage training and protective gloves and other equipment.

    GSP
     
  11. omgwtfbyobbq

    omgwtfbyobbq Member

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    50-60V required to be lethal? It's possible, but only if you're going to open up a couple arteries and stick those on to the pack terminals.

    Did you read the link from my last post? 90V is barely a trickle for most people with dry hands.

    http://techno-fandom.org/~hobbit/cars/batbox/tn/48span90.jpg

    At the maximum extension one hand can reach, I can bridge 90 volts worth of the pack. And I have to press *hard* to feel anything at all. Those who have worked on analog phone lines may know what 90 volts feels like if someone happens to dial in just when the wires are being fiddled with, as that's about what the ringing signal is. I don't think that ever killed anyone, just gave them a little surprise and the option to clip in and answer the call.Regardless, in our overly litigous society I'm required to say...
    [SIZE=+1] do not try this at home.[/SIZE]
    Trained professional, controlled demo, closed track, defibrillator on standby, etc.

    At that resistance, the ~200+V the pack is usually at (higher voltage is more wear on the pack, so the ECU tends to aggressively bleed that off), it would probably be painful, but not close to fatal. To get a potentially fatal shock at that voltage, someone would need to lower their resistance by an order of magnitude, eg stand in a puddle in their bare feet and stick their wedding ring to the highest voltage point.

    http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_1/chpt_3/4.html
     
  12. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    I'm not at all convinced that 90V would be anything like a tickle. When I was in high school I got hit by 110V DC from hand to hand and it was definitely a lot more than a tickle. I had to be pulled off it as my muscles completely froze.

    DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME OR ANYWHERE ELSE
     
  13. omgwtfbyobbq

    omgwtfbyobbq Member

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    You'll feel 90V (or 110V) AC a lot more than 90V DC. For the same sensation, AC requires roughly a fifth of the current DC does.

    BODILY EFFECT DIRECT CURRENT (DC) 60 Hz AC 10 kHz AC
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Slight sensation Men = 1.0 mA 0.4 mA 7 mA
    felt at hand(s) Women = 0.6 mA 0.3 mA 5 mA
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Threshold of Men = 5.2 mA 1.1 mA 12 mA
    perception Women = 3.5 mA 0.7 mA 8 mA
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Painful, but Men = 62 mA 9 mA 55 mA
    voluntary muscle Women = 41 mA 6 mA 37 mA
    control maintained
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
     
  14. Yggdrasill

    Yggdrasill Active Member

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    #14 Yggdrasill, Jan 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
    Anything above 30V is considered dangerous, but the voltage needs to be significantly higher to have any real chance of killing you. IIRC, the lowest voltage that's been recorded having killed someone is around 35V.

    If you're killed by 30V you're probably soaking wet and have an underlying heart condition. For 60V to kill you, it might be enough to have an underlying heart condition. And obviously, the power supply needs to be beefy enough to supply the current required to kill you, 5 GV 10 mA will hurt like hell but it probably won't kill you. (I doubt analog phone lines supply enough current to kill you, but I'm not sure.)
     
  15. EarlyAdopter

    EarlyAdopter Active Member

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    Not sure how we got on this topic, but it's the amperage that kills, not the voltage. That's why grabbing both terminals of a 12V DC automotive battery can kill you but grabbing both terminals of a 300,000V Van de Graaff generator will just stand your hair on end.
     
  16. Yggdrasill

    Yggdrasill Active Member

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    Current is a function of voltage, which is why grabbing both terminals of a 12V battery is completely safe. A van de graaff generator outputs a high voltage for only a very short time, so even though the voltage as such is dangerous, a van de graaff generator isn't.
     
  17. Kaivball

    Kaivball Member

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  18. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    According to some guy called John Petersen.;)

    In the short term, this is correct, but if Tesla has their way you bet they will because it'd seriously cut sourcing issues at the massive multiples they're looking for.
     
  19. Kaivball

    Kaivball Member

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    Sure, one of two things has to happen: the recycling cost has to come down dramatically or the ingredients have to become more valuable.
     
  20. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    By the time the batteries have spent ten plus years in a Tesla and then twenty five years in a Solar City home there will be a lot more batteries to recycle, which will easily justify recycling plants. I'm not seeing this as a big problem--it's far less of a problem than the catalytic converters in an ICE car. Batteries have been recycled for longer than any other product and I don't see this changing.
     

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