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Experts discuss current trends in battery recycling

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Which challenges and opportunities result from the increasing use of lithium-ion batteries? And what are the further trends and developments in the field of battery recycling? These were just some of the topics discussed at the 21st International Congress for Battery Recycling ICBR 2016, which was held in Antwerp, Belgium this September. Around 200 experts came together at the annual industry meeting. The three-day conference schedule covered a great deal of ground, with many expert lectures on the agenda as well as three plant tours at various recycling companies. new-recycling1 Dr Christian Hagelücken of Umicore kicked off the conference. In his keynote speech he presented the impacts of the EU Commission’s planned circular economy package on the recycling of metals. Dr Fabian-Alexander Polonius and Dr Sebastian Spies from Daimler AG then proceeded to speak on the issue of transport safety. They emphasised that the transporting of automotive lithium-ion batteries does not basically constitute a significant risk. Even the risk of transporting damaged batteries can be well calculated and kept to a minimum, primarily through the use of suitable packaging. In their view, a transparent, standardised process for the safe handling of lithium-ion batteries and consistent implementation by well-trained personnel are the essential safety factors. Further, lectures were held on the significance of battery recycling in a European circular economy. In this context, José Rizo Martin from the Directorate-General for the Environment of the EU Commission portrayed the viewpoint of the Commission. Hans Craen from the European Portable Battery Association also spoke on the effects of the planned expansion of the circular economy. Dr Claude Chanson from the European Association of Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Batteries (RECHARGE) explained the significance of extended producer responsibility. The lectures were supplemented by country reports on various collection systems, including reports on the battery market in the USA and Canada. In addition, Laurens ten Horn from the European association of national collection schemes for batteries (Eucobat) presented current technological developments in the rechargeable battery field. He named the use of silicon and the development of lithium-sulphur batteries as examples. The development of lithium-air technology could also compete with lithium-ion batteries in future, as a far higher energy density could be achieved through their use. Again this year, the talks were accompanied by an exhibitors’ forum. Congress attendees had the opportunity to check out innovations currently on the market. Test rides with e-bikes from Accell and test drives with e-cars from Tesla Motors were also on offer.