PEM and LKQ Europe Present Study on Battery Circular Economy


The chair "Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components" (PEM) of RWTH Aachen University and LKQ Europe have investigated challenges posed by defective and worn-out e-mobile drive batteries. The solutions developed for battery reuse, remanufacturing, repair and recycling have now been presented in the form of a study at the 43rd International Vienna Motor Symposium. The cooperation between PEM and Europe's market-leading wholesale company for vehicle spare parts, which goes beyond the study, focuses on conserving resources, preserving the residual value of battery-electric vehicles and extending battery use in the vehicle.

  Professor Kampker speaks at the International Vienna Motor Symposium Copyright: © Zsolt Marton

"E-mobility is picking up speed and has to be careful not to let its sustainability aspirations slip in the process," says PEM founder and head of institute Professor Achim Kampker: "The volume of lithium-ion batteries in the last stage of their 'life' in electric vehicles will increase massively in the coming years. That's why we need to develop economical and sustainable concepts for the optimization and reuse of drive batteries." The project partners' investigation was dedicated to critical elements and potential solutions throughout the value chain. According to the study, a fully closed battery circular economy with a focus on repair and remanufacturing of batteries shows the highest savings on both cost and emissions levels. This underlines the central importance of battery repair and remanufacturing. The recycling of corresponding raw materials also remains important, but should only be considered as a last option.

1.3 million batteries to be replaced yearly by 2030

Depending on the requirements profile, the traction battery, the most valuable part of a battery electric vehicle, must be replaced after about ten to 14 years. At this point, a closed battery circuit is not yet available in many cases today. "By 2030, we expect around 34 million high-voltage batteries to be installed in battery-electric vehicles across Europe," says Christoph Schön, "E-Mobility Innovation Manager" at LKQ Europe: "According to current estimates, around 1.3 million batteries will need to be diagnosed and subsequently repaired or replaced each year by the end of the decade due to electrical, mechanical and electrochemical defects." According to the joint study's projections, the number of returns will continue to increase at an annual rate of 30 percent thereafter. "Replacing an entire battery system is very expensive. We need to offer sustainable solutions where repair or reconditioning involves only a fraction of the cost of a new battery," Schön says. LKQ expects a sharp increase in battery-electric vehicles on the independent aftermarket in 2028 and beyond, when a significant number will be out of manufacturer warranty and into independent repair shops.

Partners want to push innovations for efficiency

To capitalize on this potential, the PEM and LKQ teams want to drive economic and environmental innovation by investing in battery repair and reconditioning solutions. The partners are currently planning to expand their cooperation in the form of further projects.

Further information on the 43rd International Vienna Motor Symposium can be found on the official website.