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Daimler Truck takes circular economy approach to commercial vehicle battery life

A worker in a recycling facility.
Daimler Truck North America is taking a circular economy approach to its epair, remanufacturing, repurposing, and recycling of lithium-ion battery materials. Daimler Truck

Daimler Truck North America is showing its commitment to a lower overall carbon footprint through a comprehensive circular economy approach across its operations that will emphasize repair, remanufacturing, repurposing, and recycling of lithium-ion battery materials used in DTNA electric vehicles.

A key goal of the approach is to extend the usability of rare-earth materials and products, along with maximized battery lifespans and lower material waste. DTNA uses advanced technology to determine when a lithium-ion battery no longer meets its standards for vehicle use; that information guides the decision on the optimal process to maximize materials for a second life, with repair taking precedence wherever possible.

DTNA is extending its approach to all components of EV products.

"As part of our commitment to maximizing material life cycles, we meticulously assess environmental and ethical implications from sourcing to post-production," said Rakesh Aneja, vice president and chief of Zero-Emission Transformation Group at DTNA. "Our primary goal is to repair our lithium-ion battery materials and reduce the consumption of new resources."

Remanufacturing with intended reuse in vehicles

If a component is beyond simple repair, it will enter the remanufacturing process at existing Detroit Diesel remanufacturing locations. They are partially disassembled, modules replaced, and tested rigorously for optimized reliability. All remanufactured products are updated with the latest technology and must meet or exceed new product standards. Remanufacturing is a cost-effective solution that improves the original cost of ownership.

Innovative approaches repurpose batteries that can not be reused

DTNA has partnered with Nuvation Energy to pilot a battery energy storage system (BESS) designed to assist in charging, peak shaving, backup storage, and microgrid scenarios. This allows DTNA to repurpose batteries that can not be reused in a vehicle.

"We're thrilled to announce the incorporation of DTNA's first battery energy storage system units, designed by Nuvation Energy using Detroit battery modules, at Electric Island later this year," continued Aneja. "Battery energy storage systems play a pivotal role in the electric vehicle ecosystem, given the escalating demand for charging infrastructure and limitations of the current power grid. As the number of EVs on the road increases, the existing grid capacity may struggle to meet charging demands. Energy storage systems alleviate this issue by facilitating off-peak charging, utilizing stored power when needed, and reducing reliance on the grid."

Responsible recycling

In partnership with Li-Cycle, DTNA will responsibly recycle critical battery-grade materials for batteries that reach the end of their life cycle. Li-Cycle uses an environmentally friendly and safe method that recycles batteries within a liquid-based solution, achieving up to a 95 percent recovery rate for returning critical materials back to the battery supply chain while producing minimal water discharge.

"This circular approach extends beyond just batteries," concluded Aneja. "We are actively working to apply this concept to other facets of our product development, aiming to increase our utilization of reusable or recyclable materials. Our goal is to continue contributing positively to the preservation of our planet for future generations."

On the path to net zero

In line with its sustainability goals, DTNA aims to achieve carbon neutrality for all new products and services from direct suppliers in Europe, the United States, and Japan by 2039. As early as 2020, the Portland Truck Manufacturing Plant, where the Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 are built, achieved CO2-neutral production by reducing energy consumption and offsetting on-site emissions. DTNA further plans to achieve CO2-neutral production at all its remaining truck manufacturing plants by 

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