Where to Recycle E-bike Batteries? A French Example

Recycling of e-bike batteries has been launched in France.

Easy E-Biking - city e-bike battery, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

The collection and recycling process and as well as a network of e-bike batteries collection centers have been created by the eco-organization Corepile and Sport and Cycle Union, which represents the union of cycle professionals.

In 2017, the electric bike market was growing fast. At the beginning of the year, the French State set up a purchasing aid capped at 200 euros for the acquisition of an electric bicycle. A total of 255,000 e-bikes were sold that year, almost double the 134,000 of the previous year.

E-bike batteries are industrial products, which require every retailer that sells them on the market, to organize the collection and recycling of these products. Till 2017, the overall volume of e-bike batteries that required recycling was low. And the collection process was supported by professional logistics networks (such as La Poste, for example), which also managed the recycling.

But in 2017, when the sales of e-bikes reached new heights, and it became obvious that the number of e-bike batteries to recycle will grow fast, the Sport and Cycle Union considered creating a separate process, devoted especially to these products.

The Sport and Cycle Union has, therefore, approached Corepile, an eco-organization already experienced in recycling “portable batteries and accumulators”.

In this voluntary process, eco-organizations take care of the environmental obligations to take care of electric bike batteries manufactured and sold on the French market.

“Our ambition is to triple the collection by 2020”

On January 1, 2018, the process was launched. To date, with 35 financial partners (which cover around 70% of e-bike batteries present on the market) who pay for an eco-participation and 700 collection points where Corepile accepts used batteries, 40 tons of e-bike batteries have been collected in one year, which is the equivalent of 15,000 units.

Although this e-bike battery recycling process does not have targets imposed by the State, Frédéric Hédouin, CEO of Corepile, explains the future of this network: “In the long term, our goal is to continue to recruit new collection points to improve the visibility of the recycling process and thus increase the volumes collected. We aim to triple the collection by 2020.”

60 to 70% of e-bike battery is reusable

Starting from a batch of 10 batteries, Corepile then collects them for disassembly and separates the recyclable components (steel, iron, or polymers) or recoverable (nickel, cobalt, manganese).

This recycling is provided by two French companies, Eurodieuze (Moselle) and Recupyl (Isère). Various alloys are then recovered (iron, nickel, cobalt, manganese). Other materials such as, for example, lithium, which represents a fraction of less than 2% of the weight of the battery, cannot currently be recycled. At the end of the process, 60 to 70% of each e-bike battery has its second life.

Moving towards fast charging batteries?

Thanks to the development of new processes, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany and Coboc soon to offer an e-bike battery pack that can be recharged in less than an hour.

While it takes two to four hours or longer today to charge an electric bike, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the electric mobility company Coboc want to speed things up by developing a new generation of rechargeable batteries.

A new process relies on specific lithium-ion cells. It is capable of tolerating a charging current much higher than the cells usually used on e-bikes, which is able to go up to 10 amperes. Such strong current allows recharging a battery in less than an hour from a household outlet.

Besides that, both partners are working on a new battery management system, the famous BMS (Battery Management System), which must better track the state of charge (SOC) and health (SOH) of the battery that can influence each other. Once saved and transmitted from BMS, the data will then be made available to manufacturers and users. This will facilitate further experiments and monitoring.

In practice, the KIT is in charge of cell selection and rapid charge process development while Coboc is focused on needs analysis and development of the tracking device.

Partly financed by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the program will end in September 2021.

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