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By Eric Yoshimura, Manager, Sales & Business Development, Hitachi High-Tech America, Inc.
Manufacturers are facing mounting pressure to engage in sustainability practices that support a circular economy — one in which products and materials are recycled back into production to reduce waste and pollution. As the electrification of transportation gains traction, this is putting the electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain under increased scrutiny. The EV revolution can contribute significantly to addressing climate change and sustainability, but to do so it must encompass a game-changing approach to the battery life-cycle loop — from origination to ownership to recycling and return to the top of the supply chain. Battery manufacturers, EV and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), fleet and energy storage system (ESS) operators, and battery refurbishers and recyclers all must grapple with the challenge of ensuring optimal materials sourcing, production and use of EV batteries.
To address the carbon emissions challenge, companies must forge a path to environmental practices while also supporting financial performance. In a circular economy, effective use of resources is linked to economic growth. To support a circular economy for EV batteries, lithium-ion recycling must allow material resources to be reused in a way that delivers both environmental and economic benefits. What has stood in the way is a fragmented ecosystem of unpredictable supply chains, low-fidelity data points and proprietary digital solutions. A key place to start addressing these issues is with asset identification standards, where each individual battery cell in a vehicle can be tracked against life cycle touchpoints. This would require improved labeling, unique serialization, a cloud capture system and longer-term digital asset monitoring. It would also entail the standardization of data portability, where asset life-cycle touchpoints can be recorded and transported across proprietary ecosystems to improve data fidelity. One part of the challenge is knowing when it’s time to recycle batteries. Conventional testing methods are so time-consuming that EV end-users find themselves overspending because they cannot get optimal data on battery life quickly enough to prevent interruptions in operations and unpredictable downtimes. And on the production line, battery refurbishing factories need to be able to test more rapidly and with greater precision to achieve greater efficiencies in remanufacturing. Rapid battery testing could help ease disruptions across the supply chain, thereby supporting the circular economy.
At Hitachi, we have leveraged our expertise with data observation, measurement, and analysis to create a solution that ensures that still-viable batteries are not discarded prematurely. Hitachi High-Tech’s Life Cycle Management Solution for Lithium-ion Batteries flags batteries at the end of their useful lives and pinpoints when it’s time to recycle them. We designed our solution to both encourage more widespread use of EVs and manage an increased volume of lithium-ion batteries to ensure optimal use and recycling. The Life Cycle Management Solution for Lithium-ion Batteries evaluates batteries during or after use in just minutes, delivering an assessment of the performance degradation and remaining life of each battery. The service captures battery charge and discharge data and sends it to the cloud for analysis and reporting. The entire process is automated and can be completed with minimal effort. Conventional diagnostics take two to four hours to complete, so a business can lose as much as half a workday determining whether an EV being tested is operational. Our service package provides that answer in not more than two minutes — and sometimes even faster.
The Life Cycle Management Solution for Lithium-ion Batteries enables advances not just in speed, but also in data sophistication, which will power the asset identification necessary for tracking individual batteries. This optimized use of data can contribute to the improved labeling, unique serialization and cloud capture system that will be essential for data asset monitoring in the future.
This data can be used across the entire battery life cycle, from raw material through manufacturing to installation, whether in EVs, construction equipment or mobility devices. When batteries have completed their useful lives in their initial implementation, data will reveal new opportunities to either recycle them — for example, in refurbished used cars — or to repurpose their materials in new products.
Digitally driven green innovations are core to Hitachi’s mission and approach to addressing customer challenges. We are committed to the principle that it is possible to respect planetary boundaries, support society’s well-being and promote quality of life through the use of data and technology. Our solutions are designed to bring sustainability and global growth into alignment. Hitachi High-Tech’s proprietary rapid diagnostics of battery degradation method is just one example. We are committed to continual improvement and expansion when considering future features for our Life Cycle Management ecosystem. Learn more about how we are working toward the goal of creating a full circular battery ecosystem.
Manager, Industrial Solutions Division, Hitachi High-Tech America, Inc.
Eric Yoshimura has worked a career ranging in industries from consumer electronics, semiconductor processing equipment, industrial microwaves, renewable energy, and automotive supply chain. At Hitachi High-Tech America, Inc., Eric is at the forefront of the Business Development group and discovering new opportunities using the battery Life Cycle Management (LCM) to enhance business partners both environmental and economic challenges. Eric is committed to Hitachi’s goals and mission to provide sustainable and climate friendly solutions to our customers.