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Uncovering the Potential of End-of-Life Electric Vehicle Batteries in Germany and South Korea: NABATE Workshop

To highlight the potential of End-of-Life Electric Vehicle batteries, the NABATE workshop was held

Written by Suhyun Ryu and Minjeong Choi

With the objective of highlighting the potential of End-of-Life (EOL) Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries, the NABATE (Nexus Approaches to Battery Waste Management for Sustainable E-mobility Transition) workshop was held on December 7, 2023, at UNU-FLORES. This workshop was attended by government representatives from Korea and Germany – namely, Korea Environment Corporation (K-eco) and the German Environment Agency (UBA), alongside industry representatives from TRICERA GmbH and Re-element GmbH. With the event being organised and hosted by the Water Research Team of UNU-FLORES, all participants engaged in discussion surrounding the practical implementation, technological development, regulatory frameworks, and potential collaboration related to this highly topical theme.

The NABATE workshop

The NABATE workshop was opened by researchers of UNU-FLORES, who introduced the project and its background. Financed by K-eco, NABATE aims to document current technological and development trends related to EOL EV batteries in Germany. The project encompasses a comprehensive overview of the rapidly evolving battery recycling landscape, including major recycling facilities, legal frameworks, and societal perspectives. The goal of NABATE is to contribute to research on sustainable, integrated end-of-life battery recycling that can support decision-making in South Korea, drawing upon the know-how and experience of Germany and the EU. The project commenced on May 12, 2023, and is expected to conclude on January 31, 2024.

According to UBA, Germany’s new EU battery regulations will include an extended producer responsibility (EPR) system, which includes industrial batteries. In response to battery market developments in Germany, additional regulations will be installed to cover the entire life cycle of batteries, thereby increasing required recycling rates.

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TRICERA, a leading battery energy storage systems (BESS) provider in Europe, presented their innovative approach to battery reuse through giving batteries a second life cycle as opposed to immediate recycling them. While TRICERA emphasised their use of artificial intelligence analysis to assess battery quality, battery recycling technology startup, ReElements, showcased their lithium-ion battery recycling method that utilises shock wave fragmentation to avoid crashes during the recycling process.

Many challenges are prevalent in both Germany and South Korea regarding battery reuse and recycling – particularly in terms of law revision and global platform management. In particular, electric vehicle waste, materials, and carbon emissions perspectives are important elements to be considered in establishing global net zero partnerships.

The workshop participants benefited from key insights from German government and industry representatives during the discussion sessions, whereby they shared their responses to the new EU regulation and suggested challenges to be overcome when adapting to these regulations. K-eco proposed holding further discussions With UNU-FLORES and UBA regarding international cooperation and underlined the importance of collaboration in addressing these global issues.

Spearheaded by UNU-FLORES, the NABATE project and the associated workshop marks an important step towards international collaboration for sustainable solutions in the management of end-of-life electric vehicle batteries. As discussions continue, the outcomes of this workshop are anticipated to shape the future landscape of battery waste management and sustainable e-mobility transitions in South Korea, and further expand the highly productive, shared scientific landscape of German and South Korean collaboration.

Additional workshops are to be held in Korea in February 2024, while other events related to the NABATE project are currently under discussion with the relevant partners.

UNU-FLORES Delegation:

Korean Environment Corporation(K-eco) Delegation: 

  • Seung-Hoon Lee, General Manager, International Cooperation Division, Global Strategy Office
  • Do-Hyeong Kim, General Manager, E-Waste Management Division, Department of Environmental Assurance of Recycling
  • Yueun Hwang, Assist Manager, International Cooperation Division, Global Strategy Office
  • Byung-Hyun Cho, Assist Manager, International Cooperation Division, Global Strategy Office

German Environment Agency (UBA) Delegation: 

  • Axel Strobelt, Section III 1.2 Extended Producer Responsibility- Electrical Equipment, Vehicles and Batteries
  • Ralph Wollmann, Presidential offices, International Academy Transformation for Environment and Sustainability at UBA (TES Academy)

TRICERA GmbH Delegation:

ReElements GmbH Delegation:

Projects

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