One of the biggest obstacles automakers face with electric and hybrid vehicles is battery longevity and battery disposal. If EVs are truly the next wave, there must be a solution to sustainably using the materials in batteries and safely. Both Volkswagen and Nissan have previously detailed reuse and recycling programs, and Honda Europe is the latest to announce an eco-friendly plan.
Honda Europe is expanding on a partnership with waste management company Société Nouvelle d’Affinage des Métaux (SNAM) that originally sprouted in 2013. SNAM previously assessed the traceability of end-of-life batteries and made sure they were properly disposed of. In the new arrangement, SNAM will analyze batteries for what are known as "second-life" uses.
Specifically, SNAM will take in lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries from Honda dealers and authorized treatment facilities in 22 countries. Once in house, the batteries will be tested and SNAM will determine if they can be picked apart and repurposed for energy storage in domestic and industrial applications. If not, there's a second option.
Using hydrometallurgy, which can be generally described as a chemical purification method that separates and extracts metals using a reaction in a water-based medium, cobalt and lithium can be pulled out of the used batteries. Honda says these materials can then be used for building new batteries, as color pigments, or as additives for mortar. The copper, metal, and plastics from the battery are also recycled and/or reused.
SNAM notes that this program only applies to large batteries from EVs and hybrids known as "traction" batteries and not 12-volt batteries found in traditional gas- or diesel-powered cars. Collections can be arranged within 15 work days, as well, to ensure stacked-up battery storage does not present any sort of risk. This will be particularly important when Honda launches the new E all-electric hatchback.
The gallery above shows the recycling steps slide-by-slide. Read more about the program in the Honda Engine Room.