"Second Life" of Spent Batteries: PEM Launches Study with Industrial Partners


In November, the Chair of Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components (PEM) of RWTH Aachen University launches a consortium study titled "Mastering the Challenges of a Batteryʼs Second Life". Together with numerous industrial partners, the focus is on the question of whether and how aged traction batteries from electric vehicles can be profitably reused as stationary energy storage systems.

  A stationary energy storage system next to solar modules and a wind turbine Copyright: © Adobe Stock | Malp

"Battery systems must be fully utilized"

The study is being conducted because of the increasing spread of battery electric vehicles and the associated rise in demand for lithium-ion batteries in the coming years. "High quantities of lithium-ion batteries are expected to be returned in Europe at a time when the electric mobility market is ramping up, some of which have not yet reached the end of their potential service life," says PEM Director Professor Achim Kampker: "In the interests of the best possible efficiency and circular economy, we must fully utilize such battery systems."

Market volume could increase sixfold

According to initial findings, the market for recycling of aged traction batteries is still at an early stage, as lithium-ion batteries can be used in vehicles for between eight and 14 years until they are no longer suitable for this purpose with around 80 percent residual power. Nevertheless, the European market for the reuse of such batteries is already worth around 250 million euros and is attracting high growth rates, meaning that the market volume will increase sixfold to up to 1.6 billion euros by 2030 in a best-case scenario, according to PEM forecasts. "This 'second life' market offers many entry opportunities for players from logistics, plant and technology development as well as for system integrators and energy storage operators – which means a great opportunity for the European market overall," says Kampker.

Umicore, TÜV, and Webasto among partners

The four-month study is pursuing a holistic approach that takes into account the regulatory, technological and economic aspects of traction batteries' reuse. Such a 'second life' as a stationary energy storage solution could last as long as the original use. Study partners from industry include Umicore, EA Elektro Automatik, DSV, Encory, Circunomics, Webasto, and TÜV Association. All partners are established market players who can make valuable contributions to the results of the study with their practical experience. The consortium plans to publish initial results in January 2024.

For further information, PEM expert Merlin Frank can be contacted at .