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System level circular economy approaches in batteries

The transition to a low-carbon economy will lead to an exponential increase in demand for batteries and raw materials for batteries (such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese) - this supply risk could at least partially be reduced by system level circular economy (CE) approaches.

CE is an economic system in which life cycle thinking, sustainability, systems thinking are at the core. CE concept aims to keep materials in use and design out waste and emissions by using recycled and secondary raw materials, by extending the lifetime by promoting the durability extension, removability and replaceability, and where feasible the repair and reuse of batteries and finally by recycling battery raw materials and recovering valuable elements. From CE point of view, recycling and recovery of battery raw materials are not enough, and innovations based on materials substitution, materials and products re-design can change materials requirements substantially.

Design is the key”: up to 80% of product’s environmental impacts are determined at the design phase. This gives the opportunity adopting circularity and sustainability aspects as design criteria's already in development of battery materials, battery designs and processes to achieve higher levels of circularity and reduce the environmental impact. Holistic perspective and system-level approach is needed for system optimization with respect to multiple objectives.

One example of practical means in this is Digital Battery passport  - a digital tool to improve circularity and sustainability. The concept of a battery passport was initially presented by the Global Battery Alliance (GBA). The GBA Battery Passport will be a digital twin of a physical battery. Basically, it will be a sustainability certificate that contains all applicable information on environmental, social, governance, and life-cycle requirements involving all actors in the battery value chain:

Source: Global Battery Alliance. https://www.globalbattery.org/battery-passport/

 

Target audience: Battery value chain actors, Battery material, product and process designers, Consumers.

Product life cycle stages & Modules (EN15978): A1 Raw materials supply

 

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Circular economyClimate resilienceWasteAnalytics and modellingMaterialsTechnologyTransport and mobility
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