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MAN Truck & Bus working on resource-saving battery use and recycling

MAN Battery packs used in electric trucks and buses.

European commercial vehicle brand MAN Truck & Bus has revealed its post-usage strategy for its EV batteries. The company aims aim is to extend the life of its electric vehicle batteries in the first step and, if this is no longer possible, to recycle the raw materials contained in them.

With its EV trucks and buses just picking up, the Munich-based brand is already working on developing a strategy for how the valuable batteries can be used in a resource-conserving manner in secondary applications.

MAN, part of the Volkswagen Group recycling network, claims that its overarching goal when handling batteries is to close the material cycle in order to make a significant contribution to more sustainable development. 

The automaker claims that the analysis starts with the first life of the battery in the vehicle. The focus here is on training customers to drive, charge and use the vehicles so that the load on the battery is minimized. This can significantly increase the service life of the battery. 

If parts of the battery pack suffer a defect during use, for instance, individual modules no longer function, repair of the battery is planned as a first measure. The battery can then be used again in the vehicle, the company adds. 

The batteries that come back to MAN after use in the vehicle are analyzed intensively. In the event that the battery packs can no longer be used as so-called traction batteries, they are forwarded to secondary applications. 

Currently, there are three options that MAN is experimenting in this regard - a second use in the vehicle after factory repair, a second battery life as buffer storage of solar or wind power installations, and the recovery of battery raw materials for new batteries in the sense of recycling.

MAN is currently working with various partners including the University of Kassel on real projects to evaluate whether used truck batteries are suitable for stationary storage systems. For this purpose, around 120 truck battery packs from e-trucks used for field trials with an energy content of 18.6 kWh per pack are being handed over to a storage system manufacturer.

In the current project, the focus is on energy storage systems for industrial companies. The technical and business requirements for 2nd life storage systems will be evaluated to obtain findings in the areas of safety, battery performance and remaining battery charging cycles. 

The company has also planned to define a possible pilot project for a 2nd life storage system based on MAN batteries from the first fully electric Lion's City E series city bus.

When the batteries are no longer suitable for storage applications after vehicle use or an accident, recycling comes into picture. MAN's stated aim is to achieve a closed cycle for battery raw materials, and use the raw materials recovered by its recycling partners, such as nickel, manganese, cobalt or lithium, in the new production of batteries. 

At present, the recycling rate is more than 70 percent in relation to the weight of the battery. The company is using a mechanical process followed by hydrometallurgical treatment.

RELATED: BMW forms closed loop for recycling Ni, Li and Co from Eol batteries in China

Author : Dhiyanesh Ravichandran
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