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[From the Scene] Recycling used EV batteries for Jeju carbon neutrality

Used EV battery packs stored at storage room in the EV Battery Industrialization Center of Jeju Technopark (KAJA)
Used EV battery packs stored at storage room in the EV Battery Industrialization Center of Jeju Technopark (KAJA)
SEOGWIPO, Jeju Island -- For Jeju, the goal of achieving carbon neutrality will not be achieved only through promoting electric vehicles, solar and wind energy, but also from recycling used batteries. The EV Battery Industrialization Center of Jeju Technopark is on a mission to extend the resort island‘s green efforts by collecting used EV batteries and reusing them. The agency is the only public entity, funded by both the local and central government, in South Korea seeking ways to make the best use of batteries thought to have reached an end of their lifespan.

At the agency’s storage room, around 250 EV battery packs used used in cars such as Hyundai Motor’s IONIQ 5 and Kona, and GM Korea’s Bolt, were stored at a temperature between 21 and 22 degrees Celsius to keep the used batteries in the best condition possible.

“For used EV batteries, it is important to keep them at a stable temperature and humidity to prevent the anode material in them from breaking down and to prevent the density of electrolyte from decreasing,” said Lee Dong-hoon, a team leader at the Jeju Technopark, while warning reporters not to touch the battery packs because there are some electric currents still running inside.

These batteries come from EVs registered in Jeju Island that have been scraped by their owners. Batteries used in EVs purchased before 2021 with government subsidies must be returned to the local government, according to South Korea’s environment protection law.

EV battery packs are put to rest until the electric currents left inside them are dried out.

Then, they are moved to a battery pack observation room where those that have been physically damaged are thrown out.

Battery packs that have been approved in the observation stage then go into the inspection room where their charging and discharging functions are tested for 48 hours.

“Battery packs that still guarantee 70 percent of original capacity are used to make mid-to-large sized electric power storage systems (ESS) and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS),” Lee explained.

EV battery packs disassembled into modules (Yonhap)
EV battery packs disassembled into modules (Yonhap)
Those with lower performance are disassembled into modules and those modules also go into the inspection rooms for performance testing.

Battery packs are made with 10 modules which are made with 10 cells.

Modules are reused to make small electric power storage systems, wheelchair batteries, electric bicycles, and e-scooters.

The rest are sold to private companies that extract rare materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese inside modules.

Jeju Technopark anticipates the island to have around 20,000 used EV battery packs disposed.

“We aim to come up with diverse ways to reuse these EV battery packs not only to make ESS but also on diverse forms of mobility such as golf carts, fishing boats, agricultural and construction machines,” he said.

By Hong Yoo (yoohong@heraldcorp.com)
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