Lithium battery shredding in the automotive industry | SatrindTech Srl

Lithium battery shredding in the automotive industry: innovation and recycling

Lithium and the future of electric automotive

Lithium is a crucial resource in the evolution of the automotive industry, particularly in the production of electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), thanks to its outstanding chemical and physical properties. Lithium batteries’ ability to store high energy density allows EVs to travel longer distances on a single charge, effectively addressing concerns about electric vehicle autonomy. Moreover, their extended lifespan reduces the need for frequent replacements, contributing to greater sustainability and reducing long-term costs for consumers and businesses.

The reduced charging times of lithium batteries further enhance the practicality of EVs, making them an increasingly competitive alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles. These batteries are used not only in EVs but also in hybrid vehicles, where they combine efficiency and emission reduction, and in energy storage systems, where they play a crucial role in integrating renewable energies like solar and wind into the energy mix.

Challenges and solutions in lithium battery recycling

Despite the advantages, the industry faces significant challenges, including the high cost of lithium batteries compared to other technologies. Moreover, the increasing demand raises issues related to the sustainable supply of lithium, given the environmental impact associated with its extraction and refining. Safety is also a concern, as lithium batteries can pose risks if damaged or improperly handled.

To tackle these challenges, the industry is actively engaged in research and development of new lithium battery chemistries, aiming to improve energy density, lifespan, and safety. A particularly promising area is battery recycling, which can not only reduce the environmental impact but also provide a sustainable method to recover valuable materials, helping to alleviate issues related to lithium supply.

Innovation and safety in lithium battery shredding

Recycling of this type of battery is the direction in which a major national client (the term consortium was avoided) has turned to SatrindTech for the implementation of the shredding part of a pilot plant for the treatment and recovery of these products.

It’s important to consider that lithium is a highly reactive chemical element. Shredding it can be dangerous for several reasons: the reaction with water and air, the risk of fire, and not least, the explosion. Thus, shredding lithium batteries in water is an operation that can be dangerous and harmful to the environment.

The solution to the hazards in lithium battery shredding lies in inertization, for which there are several methods. The choice of the most suitable inertization method depends on various factors, including:

  • the type of lithium battery;
  • the dimensions and shape of the battery;
  • the available resources;
  • the safety requirements.

Given the inertization process carried out in the plant, it allows proceeding to shredding, which in this specific supply occurs entirely in a water bath.

For the lithium battery shredding process, a 37kW dual-shaft shredder of the K50 series was chosen, with a 1m shredding chamber and a mix of blades with different beaks, from 30 mm, equipped with a special frame and hopper.

The shredding chamber is entirely nickel-plated, and all the carpentry is made of stainless steel. Special seals placed between the carpentry components and among the blades, whose seats were obtained with specific mechanical processes, contribute to the water tightness. A water recirculation system reintroduces water into the hopper.

Line sensors, the shredding process, and other equipment upstream and downstream of the shredder are managed by PLCs that communicate with each other over the Profinet network.

Lithium battery recycling stands as one of the most promising solutions to address environmental, economic, and safety challenges related to the expansion of the electric automotive industry. The collaboration with SatrindTech for the realization of a pilot plant for the treatment and recovery of lithium batteries marks a significant step towards innovation and sustainability in this sector. This initiative demonstrates a concrete commitment to finding safe and efficient solutions for treating used batteries, with a focus on mitigating environmental risks and ensuring safety.

In conclusion, the creation of a system that ensures safety in the lithium battery shredding process and the recovery of valuable materials from used batteries is essential to promote recycling as a sustainable alternative to the extraction of new raw materials.

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