The influence of battery pack housing design of electric motorcycle on environmental impacts and recycling targets

Main Presenter:    Tasya Oka 

Co-Authors:   Claudia Mair-Bauernfeind     Markus Fasching      Tobias Stern                                    

The escalating need for efficient transportation, especially in densely populated areas, triggers the expansion of the two-wheeler market. In alignment with the prevailing trends in the automotive industry, a rise in the popularity of electric motorcycle is also seen amid environmental urgency. Thus, a safe and sustainable traction battery design for electric motorcycle is essential.

Looking at the use stage, the probability of motorcycle accidents is greater in comparison to other types of vehicles, the likelihood ranges from 6 to 13 times higher (Yousif et al., 2020). This number is particularly important for electric motorcycle, as in the event of an accident, the traction battery is often left vulnerable with little to no additional structural protection. Hence, it is necessary to consider the crashworthiness when designing a battery pack (Sevarin et al., 2023). This consideration is not only important from a usability and safety perspective but also considering the implications of accident on the battery’s end-of-life.

In compliance with the European Union 2023 regulation on batteries and waste batteries, the EU enforced a stricter waste collection and material recovery target for light means of transportation (LMT). The stringent target aims to move towards a circular economy substituting the procurement of critical virgin materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. To recover the critical materials from spent batteries, two prominent recycling methods are currently available, namely the pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical process. These recycling techniques differ significantly, particularly in their pre-treatment requirements, which ultimately impact the type, quality, and quantity of materials recovered (Windisch-Kern et al., 2022).

This interdisciplinary study aims to expand the scope of battery pack housing eco-design by considering crashworthiness and the battery’s end of life. By applying life cycle assessment (LCA) to the various housing design, we seek to determine the environmental impact of each design and their respective ability to withstand mechanical loads. The post-crash analysis also will be done on each housing design to determine how the damage impacts the choice of recycling route. This will further influence the type, quantity and quality of the recovered material from the traction battery.

The outcome of this study aims to address the existing knowledge gap by offering an eco-design guideline that goes beyond the everyday usage of motorcycle. Specifically, it takes into account crash scenarios, the suitable post-crash recycling process and the final outcome of the chosen recycling process.

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