Andy Latham, Salvage Consultant at Salvage Wire offered us his ‘sound’ advice when it comes to EV batteries.
As a sound engineer in my spare time, I use an enormous amount of 9 volt batteries in microphones and almost single handedly keep the local battery recycling bin full.
Fortunately the High Voltage batteries in vehicles don’t need changing as often, and at weights of anything up to 600 kg that is probably a good thing!
Almost every week vehicle manufacturers are announcing new and updated vehicles with some form of electrification, from 48v mild hybrid systems to the latest technology with battery power at 800 volts. Over time every single one of these vehicles will head towards a vehicle recycling yard, some after many years and others quite quickly after being involved in accident or incident, and vehicle recyclers need to know how to handle these vehicles so that they can keep themselves, their staff and their businesses safe.
An electric shock can have serious consequences – it only take 60 volts and less than 1amp to kill – consequences that could also prove as devastating to the business where an electrocution occurs, because the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency will start to take a serious interest in the operation before the lawyers of the injured staff member take over.
Yard owners and managers have a couple of options available to them going forward and these include:
Doing nothing – not the smart choice, because many will not be in a position to turn these vehicles away and untrained, unaware employees handling these vehicles is a recipe for disaster.
Training themselves and their staff in awareness and understanding of these vehicles would be the first good decision, then they need to follow this up by putting best management practices into place that cover the collection, storage, de-pollution and dismantling of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Salvage Wire have a WAMITAB accredited Safe Handling of EV and Hybrid Vehicle training course available that has been specifically designed for vehicle recyclers, the course covers all aspects of these vehicles and gives all delegates the information and confidence to collect, store, de-pollute and dismantle these vehicles and the high voltage components that come out of them. More details of training can be found at www.salvagewire.com
Battery storage is also very important – recyclers must have separate storage areas for each type of battery, making certain that the three different types of EV battery (Lead Acid, Nickel Metal Hydride and Lithium-Ion) are not stored together, and also that nothing can fall onto the batteries or that they cannot fall onto anything else.
Owners and managers also need to invest in the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for their staff to keep them safe; this includes gloves, tools, voltage testers, signs and more; everything needed can be obtained from Total Lockout and readers of ATF Professional can get a 10% discount by entering the code SW1018 when purchasing safety clothing, insulated tools, signs, accessories and high voltage kits at www.ehvsafety.com.
Some vehicle recyclers are reporting difficulties in disposing of their high voltage batteries as their normal battery recycler either will not take these batteries or is charging for disposal. Working with Cawleys in Luton, Salvage Wire are developing a waste collection service for high voltage batteries (find out more at (www.cawleys.co.uk) and investigating disposal solutions. Currently there are no facilities in the UK where these batteries can be recycled and the cells are being removed from the battery and shipped to Belgium for recycling. Obviously there will still be a cost but this will be minimised as much as possible with the Cawleys proposition – for more details and to arrange a quote please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the batteries you have available.
Many may consider that these vehicles are dangerous, but they are no less unsafe than conventional internal combustion engines with a tank of flammable liquid at the back of the vehicle that is piped to the front, injected into a cylinder at high pressure and then exploded multiple times a second – at the end of the day you are comfortable with what you understand!