Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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A battery database – What are the benefits to the vehicle recycling industry?

Andy Latham, Founder of Salvage Wire, gives his reasons why it is necessary for vehicle manufacturers to release information on batteries fitted in their vehicles, and something which could assist the vehicle recycling industry. 

 

why does the vehicle recycling industry need a battery database - Andy Latham
Andy Latham

Every year there are fires in scrapyards across the world, in many cases, the cause of the fire is not known but a large number are suspected to have been caused by batteries being mixed with the scrap.

Salvage Wire is calling on all vehicle manufacturers to release data that shows how many batteries are fitted in each vehicle, where they are and how to remove them.

The number of fires is causing concern across the scrap metal and vehicle recycling industries and action need to be taken to reduce the volume of fires experienced.

One way is to make certain that all batteries are removed from end of life vehicles prior to these vehicles being crushed or shredded.

How difficult is that? I hear many ask. Surely these vehicles have a 12v lead acid battery that is normally in the engine bay, is easy to see because it is large and has two heavy leads going to the positive and negative terminals.

why does the vehicle recycling industry need a battery database exploded battery
An exploded battery

Agree, but many vehicles now have more than one battery in them, and some of these batteries are hidden away inside the vehicle and all of the batteries need to be removed from the vehicle before the vehicle is crushed.

As an example, an Opel/Vauxhall Mokka could have 8 batteries in it when you include the 12v battery, tyre pressure sensors, key batteries and the telematics battery; the newest Ford Focus could also have 8 batteries including the alarm system and the number of batteries in each vehicle are increasing with every new model or upgrade.

We helped a vehicle recycler investigate which vehicles were causing fires as they were being crushed and identified a number that had an e-Call (or telematics) system fitted into the vehicle. These systems have batteries included so that they can operate after an accident, and in many cases, the batteries are li-ion or NiMH types and are hidden inside the vehicle. 

If they stay in the vehicle they can explode as the vehicle is crushed, creating a fire. Or, they can start thermal runaway and catch fire sometime later. By then the vehicle could be under a pile of scrap and a major fire could ensue. Also leaving them in the vehicle increases the risk of environmental damage after scrap processing.

why does the vehicle recycling industry need a battery database Prius damaged battery
A Prius damaged battery

In some cases, the recycler does not have data to show how many batteries and their location so they do not know about these batteries, plus they do not look like a battery and can be hidden away in locations that are not easy to access.

The vehicle recycling and scrap metal industries would like to work with vehicle manufacturers to produce a global database of all vehicles with full details of all batteries, where they are located in the vehicle, the chemistry of the batteries and how to remove them so that we can reduce the volume of these batteries going into scrap piles, increase the volume of batteries being recycled and reduce the risk of fire.

Which global manufacturer is going to be the first to release their data so we can start this database? Over to you!

To find out more, send Andy a message at andy@salvagewire.com  

This article first appeared on the Salvage Wire Blog

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction www.salvagemarket.co.uk drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

The power of the network model means e2e has the ability to influence industry standards and is committed to continually raising the bar whilst redefining the role and perceived value of the salvage operator.  Network members adhere to robust service level agreements, against which they are audited, in order to ensure performance consistency and a market leading customer experience.  

The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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