battery dissasembly

(EV: Electric Vehicles)

SMARTHANDLE will improve environmental aspects targeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically by activities focused on battery recycling, supporting circular economy and the European Green Deal objectives.

Recycling battery packs is a valuable activity that can lead to the recovery of secondary raw materials. In 2019, the estimated recycling rate of Li-Ion batteries was only 5-7%. The reuse of modules for the remanufacturing of battery packs is a viable alternative for second-life applications that exploit the remaining storage capacity of the cells, such as in stationary storage applications for renewable energy.

Due to large variations between battery packs (lack of standardization) and the high voltages present within them, this use case in SMARTHANDLE presents a particular challenge. The end-of-life battery packs need to be dismantled (to module level, typically shoes box size, but depends on proprietary designs, having several types even for the same manufacturer) before the modules or cells can be either reused or recycled.

A fully automatic disassembly remains difficult, while the human -robot cooperative disassembly ensures high flexibility and productivity.

battery disassembly

Current battery packs are not designed to be easily disassembled. The spaces between the modules are narrow and the joining technologies are mostly irreversible (e.g. glued parts, welded plates, single-use screws), leading to difficult non-destructive disassembly. Flexible objects (such as cables and hoses) can be in unpredictable positions.

It is difficult to get information about the life of the battery pack (technology, number of charges or number of kilometers traveled by the vehicle), limiting an objective analysis of the condition of the pack and adequate end-of-life treatment.  The so-called Battery Identity Global Passport (internationally recognized QR code) is a possible solution for providing battery information. Also, battery manufacturers should provide access to the Battery Management System (BMS) to obtain information on the battery state of health.

The solution foreseen in SMARTHANDLE project is the integration of a robot assisting two operators in the dismantling of vehicle battery packs. ABEE will assist with the knowledge for integration and configuration, while TECNALIA will implement a vision system for motion control. The robot will be equipped with a handling tool provided with cognitive capabilities developed by TECNALIA. Optimized handling sequence operations will be used to ensure safe dismantling steps for the battery packs. ROBOCEPTION and AIMEN will provide the perception tools for the identification and localization of the battery packs and cells, whereas AIMEN will also integrate the human perception system wherever human interference is needed. The planner by TECNALIA will generate schedules that the workstation controller by INTRA will be responsible for their execution.

This piece is authored by TECNALIA.