Skip to main content

Circular Economy Business Models for innovative hybrid and electric mobility through advanced reuse and remanufacturing technologies and services

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CarE-Service (Circular Economy Business Models for innovative hybrid and electric mobility through advanced reuse and remanufacturing technologies and services)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

The automotive industry, the most important manufacturing industry in Europe providing the 6,1% of the EU workforce, is undergoing a fundamental transformation from in fuel cars to Electric and Hybrid Electric vehicles (E&HEVs).

This revolution is accompanied by a fundamental evolution in the car design, which includes more and more high-value parts such as Lithium-Ion batteries, mechatronics, smart electronics, sensors, composite materials and techno-polymers.

This substantial change brings at the same time a challenge for post-use product treatment and a huge opportunity for new circular economy businesses. If circular economy will be applied systematically to electric vehicles, the cost of parts will be reduced and their availability increased. Besides obvious environmental benefits, the consequent reduction of Total Cost of Ownership and the improvement of maintenance and upgrade services, would additionally accelerate the diffusion of electric mobility. Moreover, the offering of innovative customized mobility services by car sharing and fleet management companies, would make electric transportation more affordable and performing.
However several barriers should be addressed: consolidated re-use value chains, processes and technologies are not established in Europe and business model sustainability is not clear in this phase of market and technology transition; products are not designed to be re-used and there is high uncertainty about their return condition, as well as on safety issues of batteries; markets for potential second-use applications were not systematically investigated; customers might not accept reused, remanufactured or recycled products; current standards and regulation do not provide a clear liability and fiscal framework.

In order to overcome the barriers, the goals of the CarE-Service project are:
• To establish new circular European value chains for the reuse, remanufacturing and recycling of batteries, metal and techno-polymeric components. To this aim, products will be re-designed for circular economy. Innovative disassembly, remanufacturing, recycling and testing solutions will be developed. New circular business models will be designed and an ICT Platform will be established for the integration of stakeholders and for the matching of demand and offering of reused, remanufactured and recycled parts. “Smart Movable Modules” will be conceived, able to move technologies and skilled operators at dismantlers’ site in order to perform on-site disassembly and testing of electric vehicles parts.
• Generate new service markets for the sustainable mobility of European citizens. New customized, non-ownership, multi-modal and performance-based mobility services responding to a variety of needs of European consumers will be designed and tested, in order to overcome the current limitations of sharing models. Such mobility services will be offered through electric vehicles managed under the paradigm of the circular economy.
• Provide suggestions for the evolution of the regulation and legislation in favour of the diffusion of the new circular economy business models and mobility services.
• Contribute to the creation of a favourable policy and innovation context for circular economy of electric vehicles as a strategic industrial and business opportunity for Europe.
In the first phase of the project, holistic requirements were identified for technical solutions, ICT platform, circular business models and mobility services for European citizens. To enable reuse, remanufacturing and recycling, a new design for batteries, metal parts and techno-polymers was proposed. Physical and virtual prototypes of re-designed parts were built and tested to preliminary verify their suitability.
Technical solutions for Li-Ion batteries have been engineered. Cooperative solutions were designed to disassemble battery packs at dismantler’s site with the support of robots, transported in a “Smart Movable Module” and operated by skilled operators as a service. Battery packs and disassembled modules will undergo a preliminary on-site test and, with the support of a Decision Support System, the optimal End-Of-Life route will be selected. Other technologies were designed for battery remanufacturing plants, to support the safe re-manufacturing of modules re-using disassembled cells, that will be tested and certified according to specific protocols. Optimized hydrometallurgical processes were also engineered for the recycling of batteries whose cells cannot be re-used.
Technical solutions for the remanufacturing of metal parts were engineered adopting cold-reforming technologies. In addition, new joining and soldering/de-soldering technologies were engineered to enable the re-use of structural metal components of End-Of-Life vehicles.
New processes were defined for the re-use of post-consumer techno-polymers into recycled materials formulations. Formulations were tested to cope with the variability and uncertainty of post-use material, guaranteeing suitable characteristics for secondary applications in the automotive and other sectors.
An ICT platform was designed for the integration of all End-Of-Life value chain stakeholders. It will allow the matching of offer and demand of re-usable, remanufactured and recycled parts in a dedicated professional marketplace, in which the quality of exchanged parts is guaranteed (and uncertainty reduced).
Enabled by technical solutions and the Platform, new business models were conceived for the establishment of re-use chains and mobility services were designed for users of car sharing. Side effects of new business models and mobility services were analysed.
Finally, a white paper including suggestions on the necessary evolution of regulation and legislation was released.
CarE-Service will develop a portfolio of technical solutions for the End-Of- Life of electric vehicles (collaborative robotics for disassembly and re-assembly, digital technologies for de-manufacturing, testing methods, hydrometallurgical recycling technologies, cold-reforming processes and new joining techniques for metals, new techno-polymers formulations and recycling processes). Such technologies will represent a strategic opportunity for strengthening European technology leadership.
A new European Platform will be created to integrate all stakeholders operating in the circular economy of electric vehicles and in other value chains, both to coordinate their operations and to offer a single marketplace for the exchange of parts and materials. Such a platform will be unique, since it will be integrated with the “Smart Movable Modules” that will transport advanced technologies and skilled operators at dismantlers’ site, making technologies accessible to SMEs and guaranteeing the quality of parts that enter the Platform.
Based on such novel technologies and Platform, new value chains that are currently not existing in Europe will be established, generating value added and jobs.
Finally, the new mobility services and car sharing business models will boost the diffusion of shared electric mobility in Europe and will improve citizens’ quality of life through more efficient and cleaner transportation.
Project logo
Image describing processes and technologies