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Experiment-based conceptualization of an automated disassembly process chain for the recycling of lithium-ion battery modules
  • Timo Hölter,
  • Fynn Hendrik Dierksen,
  • Klaus Dröder
Timo Hölter
TU Braunschweig, Battery LabFactory Braunschweig, TU Braunschweig, Institute of Machine Tools and Production Technology

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Fynn Hendrik Dierksen
TU Braunschweig, Institute of Machine Tools and Production Technology
Klaus Dröder
Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST, TU Braunschweig, Battery LabFactory Braunschweig, TU Braunschweig, Institute of Machine Tools and Production Technology

Abstract

As the volume of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries (LIB) used in electric vehicles increases, so does the demand for recycling to recover valuable active materials as secondary resources, reducing the need for primary raw materials and minimizing supply dependencies. In addition to pyro- and hydrometallurgy recycling processes, an increasingly examined approach is the direct recycling route, which involves disassembling battery systems into modules, modules to cells, and ultimately cells to electrodes. To minimize passive materials such as various metals from the housing, joints, arresters, plastics, foams, and adhesives in the subsequent crushed mass, the introduction of module disassembly processes into the existing LIB recycling process chain is promising for the resulting increase in recyclate purity. This study presents the conceptualization of a LIB module disassembly process chain which aims to elevate the depth of disassembly of LIB during early recycling stages. A reverse engineering approach is used to recover individual cells from two battery modules of one specific automotive manufacturer by removing their casing through milling and disconnecting the cells from the arresters. The experimental results are analyzed for influences on the disassembly possibilities for individual components as well as the interactions within the system, enabling the elaboration of a priority graph and a disassembly plan. In order to allow for scalable recycling process chains suitable for very high quantities, a concept for a fully automated and variant-compatible robot application based on the experiment is derived. Furthermore, the depth of disassembly is compared with the corresponding reduction of passive materials in the crushed mass. The findings indicate that several module components can be disassembled, resulting in cell recovery and a reduction of metal and plastic in the crushed mass by about 17 %, highlighting the importance of robotic disassembly in enhancing material separation efficiency during LIB recycling.
24 May 2024Submitted to TechRxiv
30 May 2024Published in TechRxiv