Home Vehicles The first batch of newly built cars was scrapped, and battery pollution...

The first batch of newly built cars was scrapped, and battery pollution has surfaced


Image source @Visual China Article | Shen Xiang, Author|Zhou Yongliang Around 2009, lead poisoning incidents occurred successively in Fengxiang, Shaanxi, Wugang, Hunan, Qingyuan, Guangdong, and Huaining, Anhui. In May 2011, there was a pollution incident involving 332 people with excessive blood lead in Deqing County, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province. These lead pollution incidents were the result of people’s extensive management of lead-acid batteries at that time. More than 60% of the quality of lead-acid batteries is heavy metal lead, and there is a high risk of lead pollution in primary lead smelting, battery manufacturing, battery recycling, and secondary lead smelting. After a pile of poisoning incidents, people realized the harm of lead-acid batteries to the human body and the environment. Since 2011, an environmental storm surrounding lead-acid batteries has swept the industry. According to data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection (now the Ministry of Ecology and Environment), as of the end of July of that year, a total of 1,930 lead-acid battery production, assembly and recycling (recycled lead) companies had been investigated in various regions. Among them, companies that shut down, stopped production for rectification and stopped production accounted for all 83% of surveyed companies. Related media reports at that time Today, the battery problem of the new era has surfaced with the retirement of the first batch of new energy vehicles. Compared with the past lead-acid batteries, although the power batteries used in new cars do not contain heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, the cobalt, nickel, copper, manganese, organic carbonates, etc. in the positive electrode and the electrolyte also have certain characteristics. Toxic, partially refractory organic solvents and their decomposition and hydrolysis products will cause pollution and damage to the surrounding environment and ecosystem. What may cause the tragedy to repeat is that the current domestic power battery recycling market is very rudimentary, and a large number of batteries have flowed to informal small workshops, which has formed a huge recycling industry chain. Small workshops “squeeze” the regular army To discuss the recovery of power batteries, we must first review the development of new energy vehicles. Since 2013, China’s new energy vehicles have been promoted on a large scale, and they ushered in rapid growth in 2014. According to data from the China Automobile Association, as of May this year, there were approximately 5.8 million new energy vehicles running on the road. According to calculations based on the five-year retirement of lithium iron phosphate batteries and the six-year retirement of ternary lithium batteries, China has gradually entered the retirement period for power batteries starting in 2019. Due to the small base in the previous period, although the growth rate is very fast, the total amount is not much. On the whole, the domestic automobile power recovery industry has just started. The current retired power batteries mainly come from new energy vehicles sold around 2015. According to data from the China Automobile Association, from 2014 to 2016, China’s new energy vehicle sales were 74,000, 330,000, and 507,000, respectively. The fast-growing and full-potential market has also attracted many entrants. At present, the companies that lay out the power battery recycling market include most companies in the battery production chain, such as battery manufacturers, materials companies, energy storage companies, automobile manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, and so on. According to data from Tianyan Check, nearly 3,000 enterprises across the country have included power battery recycling in their business scope. Among them, there are 27 enterprises on the “white list” that are recognized by the state as meeting the conditions for recycling used power batteries, accounting for about 1%. However, power batteries still appear to be similar to lead-acid batteries in the past-the rate of regular recycling is very low. According to the Shenzhen Business Daily, less than 30% of the total retired batteries actually flowed into leading companies, and a large number of batteries flowed to informal small workshops, even in the hands of individuals, forming a huge industrial chain. In addition to some being dismantled and recycled, some have been remade into small power banks, or simply processed to pretend to be new batteries. Because many small workshops do not have professional equipment and battery processing technology, in the process of processing recycled power batteries, it is easy to cause safety and environmental problems, produce a lot of pollutants, and cause secondary pollution to the environment. Source of power battery material remanufacturing: GEM There are multiple reasons for the similar situation. Among them, the most direct reason is that the cost of small workshops is lower, and the recycling price that can be given is higher than that of formal enterprises. Formal enterprises have relatively large investments in plant, equipment, personnel, and environmental protection, and their fixed costs are relatively high. At the same time, many used batteries are now in the hands of individuals. Without invoices, companies cannot deduct value-added tax during sales, resulting in excessive taxation. Therefore, when the scale of power battery recycling has not exceeded the critical point, the cost of formal enterprises is very high. At the same time, the current retired batteries on the market are mainly lithium iron phosphate batteries, because they do not contain precious metals, the sales price of the products obtained after disposal will be even lower than the cost. The ternary lithium battery with high recycling value has only entered the loading stage in 2015, and the proportion is small at the beginning, and it has not yet entered the decommissioning cycle on a large scale. From the point of view of willingness, the current formal enterprises’ motivation for battery recycling is not strong. In contrast, small workshops have small fixed assets and almost zero investment in environmental protection. They do not treat the generated exhaust gas, waste liquid, and waste residues, and at the same time ignore key links such as detection and discharge during the disassembly process, and do not issue invoices. These have greatly reduced its cost, so the bid is higher when recycling retired batteries. Originally, the number of retired power batteries was relatively small, coupled with the high price competition of small workshops, which caused formal enterprises to face the dilemma of “no rice in the pot”. Zhang Shuquan, general manager of Shenzhen-Shantou Special Cooperation Zone Qiantai Technology Co., Ltd., once said in an interview, “The production line of 30,000 tons of decommissioned power battery systems per year has a utilization rate of less than 20%.” This is not a recent situation. , Has been facing this embarrassing situation since it was put into production in 2019. In addition to factors such as price and economic benefits, consumers do not know much about the channels for battery recycling. At present, Volkswagen is still in a process of gradual acceptance of new energy vehicles, and has little knowledge about the recovery of power batteries in the automotive aftermarket. In addition, these recycling companies and outlets themselves do not have effective publicity and promotion, so many of them are idle. A variety of factors eventually led to the phenomenon of “bad money driving out good money”. Who will bear the responsibility? In order to avoid the recurrence of similar lead-acid battery tragedies, the country has made arrangements for battery recycling in the early stages of the development of new energy vehicles. According to incomplete statistics, since 2006, relevant state departments have issued more than 20 policies and regulations for the recycling and utilization of power batteries. In 2006, the National Development and Reform Commission and other agencies jointly issued the “Automobile Product Recycling Technology Policy”, which stated that electric vehicle manufacturers should be responsible for recycling and disposing of electric vehicle batteries they sell. In February 2018, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology took the lead in issuing the “Interim Measures for the Management of Recycling and Utilization of Power Batteries for New Energy Vehicles”, establishing a system for extending the responsibility of producers, establishing a traceability information system for power batteries, and encouraging first cascading use and then recycling. … At present, there are two main ideas for the recovery of power batteries: one is tiered utilization. When the power battery capacity decays to 80%, although it is not suitable to continue to be used in vehicles, it is still used in scenarios such as communication base stations and low-speed electric vehicles. Can be applied; second, when the battery capacity is less than about 30% of the initial capacity, it can be disassembled to recover some of the precious metals. But in the actual operation, these two schemes are faced with many problems. On the one hand, before cascading utilization, each battery must be tested, and then grouped and used. This greatly increases the cost of the enterprise. Similar solutions are not feasible for large-scale energy storage. In fact, the most ideal solution is to build a data platform that can dynamically track battery data. Currently, there is a comprehensive traceability management platform at the national level, but due to the lack of mandatory policies, the data reported by many companies is seriously lagging or incomplete. Based on incomplete data alone, it is impossible to accurately predict the remaining life and capacity of the battery, which will increase the quality risk of cascading products. On the other hand, the complexity of decommissioned batteries is very high. Products from different manufacturers are very different in terms of structural design, module connection mode and process technology. For example, only the shape is square, cylindrical, and soft. form. This directly increases the difficulty of later dismantling, and it is difficult to carry out large-scale operations. It is worth noting that the current domestic recovery cost-bearing mechanism is not clear. In the entire process of power battery recycling, the participants include multiple stakeholders, including battery manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers, consumers, cascade users, resource recycling companies, etc. This also leads to the division of recycling responsibilities and the burden of expenses. The subject is not very clear. In this regard, the experience of countries such as Europe, America and Japan is worth learning. Their mainstream model is that power battery manufacturers assume the main responsibility for battery recycling, and host manufacturers and battery leasing companies act as auxiliary to cooperate with the recycling work. Specifically, they also have different models. Among them, Japan is a recycling model dominated by power battery manufacturers, using the network of electric car dealers and battery leasing companies to recycle batteries; European and American countries are led by industry alliances in the recycling mode, and power battery manufacturers jointly form a recycling alliance; It is the third-party recycling model. People cannot step into the same river twice, and China will no longer follow the old path of environmental pollution. Just as the tide of power battery decommissioning started, related policies and business models were also mature. However, to truly activate the entire industrial chain, it will not happen overnight. It needs to be done step by step to dredge all links of the industrial chain and clarify the rights and obligations of all parties.