New ‘environmentally friendly’ lithium-ion battery recycling facility to open in Singapore

New ‘environmentally friendly’ lithium-ion battery recycling facility to open in Singapore

Employee works at a production line of lithium ion batteries inside a factory in Dongguan
File photo of a production line of lithium-ion batteries. (Photo: Reuters/Joyce Zhou)

SINGAPORE: Singapore is set to host a new lithium-ion battery recycling facility.

TES, the largest e-waste recycler in the country, will be opening two such facilities with the other being in France, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon announced on Wednesday (Oct 30).

Speaking at the Asia Clean Energy Summit held at Marina Bay Sands, Dr Koh said: “This is an exciting development as the use of batteries for grid-related energy storage is projected to grow globally, to manage the increasing adoption of intermittent renewable energy such as solar."

“These recycling facilities will enable a complete closed-loop cycle for lithium-ion batteries, allowing precious metals to be reused again in the manufacture of new batteries for products such as mobile phones and electric vehicles," he added.

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TES is backed by Navis Capital Partners, a private equity company managing over US$6 billion.  

The facility in Singapore, known as TES B, is targeted to open in February 2020, said Mr Wu Ge, general manager of strategic projects at TES-AMM Singapore. 

He told CNA that the Singapore and France facilities – costing about S$25 million in total - will serve the Asian and European markets respectively, adding that the two regions produce large quantities of scrapped lithium-ion batteries.  

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in personal mobility devices (PMDs) such as e-scooters, and electronic devices such as handphones, laptops and power banks. 

Based on studies conducted by TES, Singapore households will generate about 1000 tonnes of waste batteries of various types by 2021, including lithium-ion batteries, which account for 500 tonnes or 50 per cent of the total, Mr Wu said. 

He added that just an estimated 5 per cent of batteries are collected and recycled properly.  

With the recycling facility, all used lithium-ion batteries can be properly recycled, he added. “The challenge is to collect them efficiently." 

“Our facility will use 350 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar photovoltaic panels to produce electricity, that alone will reduce CO2 emission by 300 tonnes a year,” he said. 

Mr Wu noted that under the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) new e-waste management plans from 2021, batteries will be collected and recycled with increasing targets, and the facility will provide “necessary capacity” to support the new system.  

The facilities will employ an innovative recycling process that utilises “proprietary in-house technology and equipment”, said TES in a separate media release on Wednesday. 

According to TES, auto punching machines and shredders break end-of-life batteries down into fine substances, magnetic separators recover the copper and aluminium, and a chemical treatment process is used to recover commodity-grade cobalt and lithium.  

This process is “environmentally friendly”, said TES, because it does not release secondary contaminants like heavy metals or volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. The closed-loop process also means that all recovered materials will ultimately be reused in the forward manufacturing supply chain.  

TES also announced that they are working with partners to develop energy storage systems (ESS) that will use retired electric vehicle batteries to store electricity for various commercial and residential energy needs.  

“Looking ahead, the battery space is potentially facing raw material commodity shortages stemming from the exponential proliferation of Internet of Things devices, electric vehicles, and mobility devices,” said CEO of TES Gary Steele, adding that TES has worked in close partnership with the Economic Development Board (EDB) and National Environment Agency.  

As the first facility in Singapore to recover precious metals from batteries using a new hydrometallurgy process, TES B serves domestic needs and enhances the regional value chain for e-waste management, said Mr Damian Chan, assistant managing director of EDB.  

“In addition, as electric vehicle adoption and solar deployment scale up in Singapore, TES B and TES’ efforts in second-life ESS will contribute to our battery recycling and energy management ecosystem,” he added.

Source: CNA/mn

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