Currently reading: Battery technology firm warns of looming EV waste problem
Report suggests repurposing end-of-life batteries is necessary to prevent dangerous levels of waste

The UK could soon have a significant EV battery waste problem on its hands, according to battery recycling specialist Aceleron.

The Birmingham-based company, which calls itself a 'circle-economy battery developer', anticipates that “the EV revolution could create more than 11 million tonnes of battery waste worldwide a year in the next 20 years - enough to fill Wembley Stadium almost 20 times”. 

The solution, claims Aceleron, is for battery production to operate on a circular model that ensures minimal wastage and preserves valuable resources.

“By designing batteries for the circular economy from the outset, we can prevent mountains of battery waste from being created worldwide,” said CEO Dr Amrit Chandan. “The decarbonisation of transport is critical, but we are currently solving one sustainability issue while ignoring another. Waste is the elephant in the room."

To this end, Aceleron builds long-life battery packs that are designed to be repaired and reused, which means they can be given a ‘second life’, unlike conventional units. They are equipped with intelligent management software, which means their performance can be monitored remotely and individual components can be replaced when necessary.

The company has signed a new deal to supply electric ATV manufacturer Eco Charger with bespoke lithium ion power packs, of which it plans to repurpose more than 90%. The same size as traditional lead acid units, Eco Charger’s batteries are claimed to be four times more powerful and weigh half as much as a standard battery.

Reports of a looming waste battery problem are seen by some as heavily exaggerated, however. Earlier this year, Alan Colledge, senior manager at recycling firm Cawleys Hazardous Services, told Autocar sister magazine CAT: “The overall picture is positive, and it’s alarmist, unhelpful and untrue to say that we face a potential electric vehicle battery mountain in the UK.

"We should be confident that electric vehicles can be recycled well and not let concerns about battery mountains spook the market on the consumer or trade side.”

Colledge's comments came following the release of a University of Birmingham survey that claimed: “Recycling technologies for end-of-life lithium ion batteries are not keeping pace with the rapid rise of electric vehicles." 

Various vehicle manufacturers have explored ways of recycling EV batteries. In 2017, Renault unveiled a plan to convert expired units into home energy storage systems, while 500 BMW i3 battery packs have been used to store energy from a wind farm in South Wales. 

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Renault to repurpose EV batteries into home energy storage systems

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Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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gavsmit 26 March 2020

A lot of valid points

If battery recycling, increased energy consumption / generation, huge prices, insufficient / unreliable charging network and poor range can all be resolved, then I'll change my ICE car to an EV asap.

Otherwise it's a combination of public transport, bicycle and only occasionally using my ICE car to do my bit for the environment.

Ruaraidh 26 March 2020

Except they already are

Both Nissan and Renault are repurposing used EV batteries for home solar storage. You can already buy these. 

Do you just regurgitate press releases or does Autocar ever actually do any research?

xxxx 26 March 2020

opposed to..

Fossil fuel fumes being dumped into the air we breath.  Love it when recycle companies tell us we need to spend more money on recyclying.   BEV batteries are recycled NOx, carbon monoxide, particles etc aren't