New energy vehicles alleviate the pressure of automobile exhaust on air quality. However, if the batteries of new energy vehicles are not retired after proper disposal, they may cause new pollution.
Jiangsu is exploring the establishment of a new energy vehicle power battery recycling system to promote battery recycling by promoting industrial cooperation and policy incentives for recycling.
China is a big country in the production and sales of new energy vehicles. From January to November 2019, the production and sales of new energy vehicles in China were 1.093 million and 1.043 million, respectively, a year-on-year increase of 3.6% and 1.3%.
After explosive growth in recent years, at present, new energy vehicle power batteries will enter a large-scale retirement period. It is estimated that by 2020, China's retired batteries will accumulate approximately 25 GWh. Retirement of such a large number of batteries will inevitably cause serious environmental pollution and waste of resources if effective management and control is not implemented.
As a pilot area for the recovery and utilization of power batteries for new energy vehicles in the country, by 2020, Jiangsu Province will basically form a new energy vehicle power battery recovery and utilization system, and basically recover and use new energy vehicle power batteries in key regions.
Accurate recycling: Initiate traceability management and implement full supervision
How can I "find" the decommissioned battery? How to ensure that the battery is accurately recycled? Hu Zhengxin, deputy director of the Energy Conservation and Comprehensive Utilization Division of the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Industry and Information Technology, frankly said that whether the battery can be recovered is a major problem that is commonly encountered everywhere challenge. At present, there are 27 new energy vehicle manufacturing companies across the country with 698 recycling outlets in Jiangsu Province, but very few batteries are actually recovered from the recycling outlets.
If the customer needs to replace the battery during the warranty period, he will actively contact the car manufacturer; if it is outside the warranty period, the situation is more complicated. "According to regulations, automobile manufacturers are responsible for battery recycling and have regulatory responsibilities. However, the ownership of retired batteries is in the hands of end customers, and we have no right to dispose of them." Xu Hanxue, a person in charge of a battery recycling company in Nanjing, told reporters that Retired batteries still have usability and profit margins, and end customers are not necessarily willing to hand them over to car companies. They often have their own considerations.
Commercial vehicle customers are mainly state-owned bus companies, which are more cooperative in recycling decommissioned batteries. For personally purchased passenger cars, it is more difficult to track and recover the power battery. One-to-one communication is required. "When selling a vehicle, a clause will be added to the agreement: the customer has the responsibility to cooperate with the recovery of the power battery. However, even so, it is not binding." Xu Hanxue said.
Hu Zhengxin introduced that because decommissioned batteries are general industrial solid waste, there is no special threshold for recycling, and only normal qualifications are required. In addition to automobile manufacturers that are responsible for the main body of battery recycling, there are also special recycling companies that can recycle. However, if the retired battery after recycling is not used in regular channels, such as made into a small power bank, it will not only have hidden safety hazards, but it will also disappear from the perspective of supervision.
On July 31 last year, a comprehensive management platform for the national monitoring of new energy vehicles and the traceability of power battery recycling was launched in Beijing. The platform aims to realize the life cycle supervision of power battery products through functions such as information collection and management. People in the industry believe that this is a key step in implementing traceability management of new energy vehicle power batteries and is of great significance for effectively promoting battery recycling.
"The current first step is for car companies to add battery recycling information to this platform, which is the basis for building a comprehensive and effective supervision and management." Hu Zhengxin introduced this as an opportunity to further clarify the recycling responsibilities between various entities. Enhance the recycling awareness of the whole society. At the same time, it is also necessary to speed up and optimize the layout of recycling to improve the convenience and operability of recycling. In addition, the relevant competent authorities of Jiangsu Province will also increase the supervision of vehicle manufacturers and recycling companies, including the design and introduction of notification measures, credit systems, reward and punishment methods.
Echelon utilization: implementation according to local conditions
Unusable batteries on electric toys can still be used in the remote control. Similarly, when the capacity of the power battery of a new energy vehicle decays below 80%, although it cannot fully meet the power demand of the vehicle, it can be used in other fields, which is the step utilization.
In the pilot enterprise of new energy vehicle power battery recycling, China Tower Jiangsu Branch, Guo Xiang, director of power operation and maintenance, told reporters that power batteries are composed of small cells, which are connected in series into modules of various specifications. A battery pack is formed by series and parallel connection. After several years of use, the battery pack capacity will gradually decline and it will no longer be able to be used in cars.
If the battery pack is restored into a module, and then reorganized and tested, it meets the size and voltage level required by the communication base station, which can be used by the communication base station to "back up" power, that is, to supply power after a power outage. Since April 2018, Jiangsu Province has used more than 9,600 ladder batteries, about 60 MWh, and consumed 600 tons of decommissioned power batteries, replacing about 1,800 tons of lead-acid batteries. China Tower Jiangsu Branch plans to replace all lead-acid batteries within 8 years, with an annual demand of more than 200 MWh. It can consume 2,000 tons of decommissioned power batteries and replace about 6,000 tons of lead-acid batteries.
At present, many enterprises are actively exploring new ways of power battery utilization, and State Grid Jiangsu Comprehensive Energy Service Co., Ltd. uses it for "energy storage". Due to the peak-valley time-sharing of electricity charges, power supply companies need to charge and store energy at night and then release the electricity during the day, which can save a lot of electricity for customers. At present, the company is constructing a 45 MWh step-by-step battery energy storage power station project in Nanjing Jiangbei New District, which will be put into production in the first half of next year. The charge and discharge of this project is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 180 households per month.
In Guo Xiang's opinion, the most ideal state is to realize the in-situ conversion of retired batteries. "There is still some energy left in the decommissioned battery, which has certain requirements on the transportation vehicle, the degree of bumps on the road, and the temperature during transportation. At the same time, the battery is heavy and the transportation cost is expensive. Therefore, it is best to implement stepwise utilization locally." Guo Xiang introduced that in terms of recycling, reorganization and step utilization, Jiangsu has basically had the conditions for local digestion.
Hu Zhengxin introduced that since 2013, the state has increased the promotion of new energy vehicles. Based on the service life of power batteries, it is estimated that next year, a large-scale retirement of power batteries will come. Poor information communication and less enterprise cooperation are common problems encountered in the use of retired batteries for the first time. In order to promote the stepwise utilization of retired batteries, in May this year, Jiangsu Province officially established a new energy vehicle power battery recycling industry alliance.
Green dismantling: research and development of regeneration technology, implementation of precise subsidies
In general, if the capacity performance drops below 30%, the power battery can no longer be used in stages and can only be dismantled and scrapped. After the battery is disassembled, valuable renewable resources such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and other precious metals can be recovered. These resources will then be converted into battery materials. This is the last and most critical link in the construction of the entire life cycle value chain recycling system of power batteries.
Disassembly methods of power batteries can be divided into two types: physical disassembly and chemical disassembly. Because the strong acids and bases used in chemical disassembly will cause pollution and damage to the environment, Jiangsu Province does not encourage this method.
A new energy company in Jiangsu has developed a plasma dismantling method, which implements procedures such as plasma separation, solid matter separation, and gas harmless treatment of used lithium batteries to extract available renewable resources. It is reported that this new dismantling method can effectively avoid the use of strong acids and alkalis and prevent damage to the environment. At present, this new technology has been promoted in the province, and projects with an annual processing capacity of 10,000 tons will be put into production in the middle of next year.
In addition to the disassembly process that may cause pollution, high costs are also a problem that hinders the recycling of retired batteries. According to the person in charge of the relevant dismantling enterprise, the widely used lithium iron phosphate battery has low recycling value, high disposal costs, and the recycling revenue is far from its recycling cost, which greatly affects the enthusiasm of recycling enterprises.
Hu Zhengxin introduced that in addition to reducing recycling costs through technological innovation, granting subsidies is also a widely accepted scheme in the industry. In order to achieve precise subsidies, some regions have followed the practice of home appliance recycling subsidies and set up special funds to deal with them and how much they subsidize; however, whether it is appropriate to subsidize, how to set standards, and how to implement specific operations requires further exploration. (Reporter Yao Xueqing)
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