Discussions around second life possibilities for e-bike batteries to take place at Eurobike

This September, Eurobike will be discussing e-mobility and raising the question, is there a second life for batteries?

The trade show, taking place 4-7 September, will be prompting discussions around what to do with old e-bike battery backs once they have run out of juice.

In 2018, just under 24% of bicycles purchased in Germany were e-bikes, with retailers selling a total of 980,000 models last year (according to ZIV). This sharp growth in e-bike sales means, inevitably, the recycling and disposal of spent lithium-ion battery packs is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue.

Faulty or weak batteries end up in what is known as the Joint Battery Returns System (GRS), with just under 80% of all e-bike producers registered with this company which is headquartered in Hamburg. GRS organises the complete collection and recycling of batteries wherein firms collect old batteries through their specialist dealers and return them to the service company.

Here, the batteries are then opened and valuable raw materials extracted, with the ‘recyclability’ of individual constituents currently lying between 50-70%.

While the industry is primarily interested in valuable raw materials such as lithium, cobalt and copper, plastic parts and cables are recycled too. However, the entire scheme has yet to reach break-even point.

Christian Henkmann, from the GRS Distribution Department, said: “This reutilisation in storage plants for regenerative energies – such as solar power – only makes sense with larger car batteries.” According to him, a 12V bicycle battery would, “be just about enough to operate a small fan.”

E-mobility specialists BMZ Group will be introducing a new standard 10V battery at Eurobike, which is smaller and lighter than the old model and can be, “installed in different drive systems.”

The idea of standardised batteries for e-bikes is advocated by Hannes Neupert, Executive Director of the Extra Energy competence centre, who believes a standardised charging interface could help to prevent bikes being thrown away due to compatibility issues.

Eurobike appears to be keeping close tabs on the e-mobility sector, after announcing the inclusion of a new area dedicated to innovative mobility solutions and trends at this year’s show which “go beyond” the bicycle.

The above ideas, and more, will be discussed in depth at Eurobike later in the year, taking place once again in Friedrichshafen between 4-7 September 2019.

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Hayley Everett

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