SIMTEGRAL - Integrated multi-scale system simulation and sustainability assessment of primary and circular raw material supply chains for lithium-ion batteries

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Duration: 2020-2023

Project description

The project "SIMTEGRAL" is part of the competence cluster "greenBatt" of the cross-sectional initiative "Batterielebenszyklus" of the BMBF and is intended to create the basis for the sustainable recycling of batteries and raw materials as well as the closing of material cycles in the battery life cycle. SIMTEGRAL is mainly concerned with analyzing and evaluating the complex supply chains of battery raw materials and their sustainable design. The main focus of the AIP is on modeling, socio-economic assessment, and design of raw material supply chains for lithium-ion batteries.


Project Partners

  • Technische Universität Braunschweig
    •  Institute of Automotive Economics and Industrial Production (AIP)
    • Institute for Machine Tools and Production Technology (IWF)
    • Institute for Particle Technology (iPAT)
    • Institute of Energy and Process Systems Engineering (InES)

  • Institute for Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling (IME - RWTH Aachen)

Initial Situation and Problem Definition

The raw materials used in lithium-ion batteries not only determine their technical properties but also contribute significantly to the manufacturing costs as well as the environmental and social impact. These costs and impacts are influenced by the design of the process and supply chains and vary depending on the raw material (type), the mining region, the technologies used, and the origin (primary or secondary). In this context, numerous research results have shown that economic, ecological, and supply policy benefits can be achieved by recovering battery raw materials through recycling. However, the available data sets for the assessment of circular or secondary supply chains are currently little differentiated, insufficiently detailed, and often not suitable for evaluating the effects of materials and components used in electromobility on society and the environment. All in all, there is a lack of robust models that map battery raw material supply chains and the battery life cycle and also include scaled recycling process chains. In order to support the design of sustainable supply chains, a holistic approach is necessary, which can map the existing complex and global interdependencies of current supply chains as well as the challenges and potentials of circular supply chains.

Objective and Approach

Against this background, the project's objective is to develop and experimentally validate physically-based multi-scale simulation models of the most important processes for the primary and especially the secondary raw material production of lithium-ion batteries in order to be able to provide process data of higher quality and resolution than before. The created models will be linked together and integrated into a superordinate assessment approach. With the help of the assessment approach, the raw material supply chains will be evaluated regarding their ecological, economic, and social dimensions in order to obtain results that can be used within a decision support model for the design of sustainable raw material supply chains. Finally, the decision support model results are used to derive recommendations for industry, science, and politics.