Cellular rejuvenation

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

At the end of their life cycle, rechargeable batteries end up in recycling at best. However, it makes more sense to continue using cells that are still functional. That is why Antoine Welter and Xavier Kohll founded the start–up Circu Li–ion.

They are omnipresent in our everyday lives. From toothbrushes to drills, mobile phones, cameras and laptops to e-bikes and e-cars, batteries and accumulators can be found in virtually all areas of life today. And the flood of rechargeable batteries has by no means reached its peak.

However, all this has its price. Firstly, in the extraction of raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese or graphite with all their well-known problems, then the emissions during the production of batteries and thirdly their disposal and the not unproblematic recycling. This is precisely where Antoine Welter and Xavier Kohll start, at the junction between the end of a battery's first life and waste recycling.

What you need to know in advance: Even a battery pack that has been discarded can still have plenty of good cells. If, for example, one cell of an e-bike battery ages more than the remaining 40 to 50, this could lead to "the entire battery pack no longer being usable. If one cell of a battery pack is broken, the voltage of the battery pack as a whole may no longer be high enough and insufficient to drive an e-motor", explains Kohll, a chemical engineer. Another risk is the occurrence of problems with the battery management system (BMS), the connectors or the welds, he says. Possibilities to repair batteries already exist today, "but with the volume of e-bikes coming onto the market, you can't repair them by hand", notes Antoine Welter.

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