The contemporary models of BMW plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV) as well as MINI PHEVs commonly use Li-ion based cell modules for their high-voltage systems.
Due to product changes, internal faults or end-of-life status conditions of these cell modules on certain vehicles it is necessary to replace them eventually. Prestige Automobile Ltd. as the sole authorised BMW and MINI service centre in Sri Lanka has been carrying out such cell module replacements since 2017 by engaging certified High Voltage technicians.
Given the complex construction and integral material in the cell modules, they cannot be loosely disposed of, or locally recycled at present as it causes environmental and health hazards. Therefore, Prestige Automobile has embarked on a project by following the Li-ion cell module recycling guidelines as per BMW AG and has selected UMICORE, based in Belgium to process and recycle discarded high-voltage batteries.
UMICORE is one of the few high-voltage battery recycling partners in the world. At present, the high-voltage battery recycling process carried out in Prestige Automobile is based on BMW warranty guidelines, due to most of cell modules are being replaced under warranty terms.
The overview of the process is as follows; once the high-voltage batteries are removed from the vehicle, they are labelled (with the chassis number, replacement date, cell module voltage etc.) and stored in a demarcated area, for a predetermined time period. This is usually 30 days after the date of the repair, as BMW AG may require the part for quality control and testing purposes. Once the 30-day period is completed, the removed modules are then processed for recycling in batches.
Documentation is carried out as per warranty claim requirements and the cell modules are marked and repacked in the original BMW cell module packaging in which the replacement cell module was delivered. The cell module itself and the packaging is labelled, sorted into batches and photographed for record purposes.
The details including the photos are then sent to UMICORE to obtain their confirmation in order to proceed. Once confirmed, the batch of cell modules is transferred to Green Links' warehouse. Green Links is an e-waste management company in Sri Lanka who provides the logistics support to recycle batteries including high-voltage batteries found in motor vehicles to store, pack and transport the cell modules to respective recycling plant.
Once the cell modules are received by UMICORE, they are processed and recycled based on the composition of the cell modules and a certificate is issued. The entire recycling process takes approximately six to eight months, from the date of the repair, due to time-related restraints and the logistics involved.
Commenting on the project, General Manager Aftersales Laksiri de Silva noted: 'At Prestige we continuously explore the possibilities of upgrading service standards while also paying attention to the environment and sustainability. This is another major milestone which we have reached in realising that mission.
'The high-voltage (Li-ion) battery recycling process at Prestige Automobile in conjunction with UMICORE commenced in mid-2019 and at present we have dispatched two batches, totalling approximately 50 cell modules. It is a continuous process, driven based on the repairs carried out on high-voltage systems on BMW and MINI vehicles.'
© Pakistan Press International, source Asianet-Pakistan