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June 10, 20244 min read

What is a Digital Battery Passport

This is a summary from the presentation of the same title by Max Khabur, Director of Marketing of OneCharge Lithium Batteries, at the Future of Electrification 2024 conference. Watch the full session here:

In his recent presentation at the Future of Electrification 2024 conference, Max Khabur, Director of Marketing at OneCharge Lithium Batteries, discussed the potential implementation of a digital battery passport in the US battery industry. The concept is inspired by progress in Europe. It aims to provide structured and reliable information about batteries, increasing transparency within the battery supply chain and ultimately fostering a more sustainable future.

The EU Battery Passport Regulation:

Khabur began his presentation by introducing the EU battery passport regulation, a recent initiative, which came into effect last year. The regulation mandates that batteries exceeding two kilowatt-hours in capacity come equipped with a digital passport. 

Khabur explained that users and buyers can gain access to a battery’s digital passport by scanning a QR sticker code on the battery. It provides essential information including critical real-time data about the battery's health, state of charge, cycle life, and even its carbon footprint and recycled materials content. The driving force behind this regulation? Transparency and accountability within the EU battery industry.

However, Khabur acknowledged that there are some hurdles in implementing battery passports. While many industrial battery manufacturers already provide some of the required information through their battery management system (BMS), a major challenge lies in standardizing the data structure. Currently, each manufacturer uses their own format. Battery manufacturers will also need to start collecting and reporting the required information on the battery’s carbon footprint and recycled material content.

To encourage the reuse or repurposing of batteries for different applications, the EU Battery Passport regulation requires a software reset function within the BMS, explained Khabur. For example, a used battery from a forklift, which requires a high power output, is suitable to be repurposed for a lower energy requirement application, such as solar array energy storage. Although both applications operate using the same kind of cells, they require different software. The EU legislation ensures that the BMS can be reset with a simple button or command and the program required for the battery’s new life can be installed.

Applicability to the US:

While the digital battery passport is not yet mandatory in the US, Khabur highlighted its potential benefits and relevance to the country. He mentioned California's Senate Bill 253, which will require companies with over $1 billion in annual revenue to publicly report their scope one, two, and three greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2026. This reporting requirement includes emissions associated with industrial equipment manufacturing, such as forklifts. The digital battery passport can help companies accurately calculate and report these emissions, contributing to the overall reduction of greenhouse gasses.

Khabur emphasized the digital battery passport’s potential to increase transparency within the battery supply chain. Additionally, using the digital battery passport to provide information about a battery’s health and past usage can streamline the process of repurposing batteries for secondary use, reducing testing times and costs. It can also increase trust and potentially accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and other electric equipment.

Case Studies and Benefits:

Although the digital battery passport is still in its early stages, Khabur shared some case studies demonstrating the potential benefits of repurposing lithium-ion batteries. One case study involved OneCharge Lithium Batteries. They had a battery that was originally a demo/test unit but wasn’t used in the final application. Since it wasn’t brand new, they couldn’t resell or use it. 

OneCharge Lithium Batteries partnered with Blue Water, a recycling company, to assess the battery's health. Since the cells were in good condition, Blue Water was able to find a second life for them. They were sold to a company specializing in repurposing batteries and used to create new products for less demanding applications, like solar power storage systems. Some examples of real-life applications where these cells were used alongside other repurposed cells included a 500 kWh emergency backup power system at the University of California, San Diego, and park lighting for the City of Phoenix. Other potential uses for repurposed cells include energy storage for RVs, boats, and homes, and off-grid refrigerators and lighting for rural areas. 

According to Khabur’s presentation, the benefits of repurposing used batteries for energy storage applications are clear. It extends the lifespan of the batteries, reducing waste and offsetting emissions from mining and recycling. Additionally, repurposing batteries can lead to cost savings and job creation in the energy storage industry.

The digital battery passport has the potential to revolutionize the US battery industry by providing transparent and reliable information about batteries' health, performance, and environmental impact. While the regulation is not yet mandatory, companies can proactively adopt this concept to stay ahead of future requirements and contribute to the development of industry standards. The benefits of repurposing lithium-ion batteries for energy storage further highlight the importance of sustainable practices in the battery industry. As the industry moves towards electrification, the digital battery passport will play a crucial role in building trust, accelerating adoption, and promoting the circular economy.