Safety and risk assessment of 1st and 2nd life lithium-ion batteries

How sustainable is the reuse and recycling of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs)?  Which kinds of advanced materials and critical raw materials do they contain? At the end of the first use of lithium-ion batteries, they can mainly be re-used for energy storage in a second-life application. Potential threats to human health and the environment must be identified in order to enable safe secondary use.

In context of the energy transition, lithium-ion batteries play an essential role in the ongoing debate on reducing fossil fuels. Their use is expected to increase in a wide variety of applications, from electric mobility to aeronautics and stationary storage systems. In the next few years, the proliferation of electric vehicles will result in the availability of a rapidly increasing number of batteries that no longer meet the required specifications for use in an electric vehicle, but could instead be used in alternative applications. Such secondary applications are therefore gaining interest worldwide.

Intact lithium-ion batteries are to be regarded as safe if they were used as intended during their first-life application. Nevertheless, they can outgas, burn or even explode in certain cases when damaged. To enable secondary uses of lithium-ion batteries, it is essential to ensure their safety.

The goals of the project include the development of safety guidelines and the integration of risk assessment methods for the second use of lithium-ion batteries, taking into account the safety aspects of their first use. An integrated risk analysis is carried out for this purpose. The results of this project should lead to an improvement in the handling of 2nd-life LIBs and will therefore contribute to an improvement in the safety of workplaces, as well as to the preventive risk assessment in crisis and disaster management. Finally, the results should also be used in the development of relevant standards.