The EU Horizon 2020 projects EREAN and DEMETER have just published a new (joint) Policy Brief on the challenges with respect to the recycling of End-of-Life hybrid and electric vehicles ((H)EVs). The May 2017 Policy Brief is titled: “Processing options and future possibilities for sustainable recycling of Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Internal Combustion Engine vehicles at vehicle recycling sites”.
The motivation for this new Policy Brief is that the new generation of End-of-Life Electric Vehicles (EV) and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV), poses new recycling challenges with respect to the recycling of conventional Internal Combustion Engine vehicles (ICEV). The latter is covered by the End-Of-Life (ELV) Vehicle Directive (Directive 2000/53/EC), which has been a success with 23 member states meeting reuse/recycling targets by 2011 and a significant number exceeding targets. However, the Directive does not yet cater for the first wave of End-of-Life (H)EVs.
Apart from REEs in the magnet motor and in some of the batteries (NiMH type), (H)EVs contain other critical metals such as cobalt (Co), gallium (Ga), indium (In), niobium (Nb), platinum group metals (PGMs), antimony (Sb), tantalum (Ta), and tungsten (W). Cobalt in particular is now being singled out due to the rapidly rising demand for Co-containing Li-ion batteries for not only (H)EVs but also laptops and smartphones.
The problem is that the current ELV recycling practice, which includes shredding, causes random dispersion of the critical metals, especially for metals, which are concentrated within specific process streams but are used in small amounts in the whole vehicle (e.g. neodymium, samarium).
The Policy Brief, which was authored by Prof. Neil Rowson (University of Birmingham) discusses distinct problems and options for the future.
More info about EREAN & DEMETER?
- The European Rare Earth (Magnet) Recycling Network (EREAN) trains 15 young researchers in the science and technology of rare earths, with emphasis on the recycling of these elements from neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets. Website EREAN.
- DEMETER is the European Training Network for the Design and Recycling of Rare-Earth Permanent Magnet Motors and Generators in Hybrid and Full Electric Vehicles. DEMETER concurrently develops (1) innovative,
environmentally-friendly direct and indirect recycling strategies for the permanent magnets in the motors and generators of (H)EVs that are currently already on the market and (2) Design-for-Reuse solutions for motors and generators in the (H)EVs of the future. Website DEMETER.