PEM Explores Industrial-Grade Battery Disassembly Automation


The Chair of Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components (PEM) of RWTH Aachen University has joined forces with numerous partners from science and industry to launch the DemoRec project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The aim of the three-year project is to develop practical solutions for the automated dismantling of electric vehicle batteries.

  A robotic arm close to an electric vehicle battery system Copyright: © PEM RWTH Aachen University | Domenic Klohs

Development of an industry-oriented plant prototype

"Currently, the various battery systems are still largely disassembled manually, which is very time-consuming and costly," says PEM Director Professor Achim Kampker. "For an efficient circular economy, automatic battery disassembly is essential." The nine partners are therefore working on industrializing the future disassembly of traction batteries with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning. As part of the project, a plant prototype is to be built that will be used to link automated and manual process steps in battery disassembly. It will also investigate interface processes for discharging and mechanically preparing batteries prior to recycling and derive guidelines for a future design for disassembly.

Manufacturer designs and battery conditions vary widely

"With the growing market share of electric vehicles, there is also an increase in the number of battery systems that have to be discarded and recycled after their useful life in the vehicle," Kampker explains. In terms of a sustainable circular economy, this would require scalable processes along the value chain, reaching from the removal of the vehicle's traction battery to a return of the numerous materials to the production of new battery generations. Disassembly is of central importance in this process chain, as extremely different manufacturer designs and individual battery conditions have to be dealt with up to now. In addition, recycling requires continuous material flows.

Further information on the project is provided here.