Dynamic Material Flow Analysis for Battery Cell Circularity in Mining Equipment

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master's Thesis
Management and economics of innovation (MPMEI), MSc
Ekblad, Johanna
Viberud, Lydia
Over the last decade, electric vehicles (EVs) have advanced considerably, with predictions of continued rapid growth. However, the batteries driving this electrification contain rare materials like lithium, nickel, and graphite, which are expected to face increased demand. This surge in demand poses challenges related to material supply and resource constraints. Circular economy principles can reduce the constraints and extending battery life through reuse and recycling loops. The mining industry exemplifies this transition, substituting diesel-powered equipment with electric alternatives in mines. This study therefore aims to investigate the resource implications of increased circularity for battery cells in mining equipment until 2050. Specific objectives include developing a dynamic material flow analysis (dMFA) model, examining effects under different reuse scenarios, and analyzing recycling rate implications. Results from the dMFA model show that life extension practices, such as reuse in other machines and battery energy storage solutions (BESS), can considerably reduce the demand for primary materials when electrifying the mining sector. For example, life extension possibilities in other mining equipment could in 2050 result in a lower demand for primary material, corresponding to a reduction of 17%. In the other scenarios, this level of reduction is affected by collection rate, recycling rate and the possibility of reusing batteries in BESS. However, practical challenges in infrastructure and compatibility arise with increased battery cell flows. The results further underscore the challenges arising from mining electrification, including infrastructure overhaul, longevity of operational mines, and practical issues in battery reuse. The thesis highlights the role of legislation in advancing recycling and technological adoption, emphasizing the need for clear legal frameworks. Collection rate mandates and product-service systems can incentivize businesses to enhance recycling efforts. Despite uncertainties in the dMFA model, the findings offer guidance for stakeholders and policymakers in enhancing sustainability within the mining sector. Future research is suggested to delve into the feasibility of life extension strategies and conduct life cycle assessments to investigate environmental impacts of electrifying mining equipment.
mining electrification , battery electric vehicles , LFP batteries , circular economy , battery reuse , battery recycling , battery life extension , material flow analysis
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