Blockchain, AI and IoT track location, condition and metals Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – February 5, 2020
The sourcing of the cobalt, graphite, lithium, nickel and other materials that go into lithium-ion batteries, and what happens to these rechargeable cells when they are spent has many worried that electric vehicles may not be any better for the environment than their internal combustion counterparts.
To address these concerns before they become a problem, the U.S. Department of Energy, Ford Motor Company and Everledger have teamed up on pilot programs to ensure EV and portable electronic batteries can be tracked for efficient life cycle management, including reuse or recycling.
Founded in 2015, Everledger applies a suite of technologies – blockchain, artificial intelligence, intelligent labeling and internet of things – to trace a product through its complete lifecycle.
DoE is funding two pilot programs being carried out by Everledger to study the latest identification, data capture and blockchain technologies to give batteries a personalized digital identity. This "battery passport" will enable stakeholders to track a battery's location, condition, health score, and which metals could be recycled for use in new batteries.
During the pilot, batteries going into Ford EVs will be traced from the time they are made.
This will allow critical lifecycle data to be exchanged between stakeholders, creating a circular system whereby more elements are reused, generate less waste and increase protection from leakage of metals into the environment.
"This is the moment in which global leaders have to invest in a more sustainable future for our planet," said Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp. "The fact is adaptation is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do as it generates economic, social and environmental benefits. With every new initiative focused on the responsible recycling and re-use of natural resources, we stride closer to achieving a more thorough and permeating circular economy."
Following the pilot program in conjunction with Ford, Everledger will spearhead a second DoE funded pilot that focuses on a platform to inform and reward consumers for recycling portable lithium-ion batteries and the portable electronics they power.
"These two pilot programs will work toward sustainable objectives, by ensuring EV and portable electronics batteries can be tracked for efficient lifecycle management," said Kemp.
Everledger is also advising the New Zealand Battery Industry Group (BIG) on traceability and supply-chain transparency for lithium-ion batteries.
"We've been working with BIG to develop a circular product stewardship scheme for EV batteries, enabling the ability for them to be repurposed for energy storage," said the Everledger CEO.
Everledger says EV batteries may have around 70 to 80 percent of their capacity remaining when they reach the end of their useful life in a vehicle at about 10 years. Storing wind or solar energy could more than double the life of these lithium-ion batteries that started out powering EVs.
"The time for circular economy is now. Adaptation is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do as it generates economic, social and environmental benefits," said Kemp. "With every new initiative focused on the responsible recycling and re-use of natural resources, we stride closer to achieving a more thorough and permeating circular economy."