VW deploys battery-checking software to speed recycling process

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Volkswagen is to use its in-house-developed BattMan ReLife battery monitoring software to check the state of health of batteries delivered to its pilot recycling plant in Salzgitter, Germany.

The first version of the BattMan (Battery Monitoring Analysis Necessity) software was developed by Audi Brussels’ quality management department for the quick and reliable analysis of the Audi e-tron’s high-voltage battery. It is already in use as a diagnostics tool for several brands of the Volkswagen Group.

BattMan underwent further development in cooperation with recycling experts at Volkswagen Group Components before the opening of the pilot plant for battery recycling earlier this year. After several months of programming and testing, the company says that BattMan ReLife has emerged as the go-to analysis solution for reliable first assessment of a battery, with the process taking only a few minutes instead of the several hours it took before.

After plugging in the low-voltage connectors, the device first checks whether the battery can communicate and transfer data. The system then detects and displays any error messages as well as insulation resistance, capacity, temperatures and cell voltages. Axel Vanden Branden, quality engineer at Audi Brussels, explained, “We are able to measure all a cell’s most important parameters. Then a traffic light system indicates the status cell by cell – green means a cell is in good order, yellow means it requires closer inspection, and red means the cell is out of order.”

With the battery state of health determined, the plant’s engineers can then select its fate, which can mean remanufacturing for return to a vehicle, reuse as a second-life unit (for example as a stationary energy store) or recycling down to its component parts.

This final option sees batteries broken down into their basic materials such as aluminum, copper, plastics and ‘black powder’. The latter contains elements including lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt and graphite, which are separated by specialized partners using hydrometallurgical means before being processed again into a cathode material.

Frank Blome, head of battery cells and battery systems at Volkswagen Group Components, concluded, “We know that recycled battery materials are just as effective as new ones. These recycled materials will be used to supply our cell production activities in the future.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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