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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