This thesis reports on the research undertaken to analyse the factors affecting End-of-Life (EoL) recycling of future Electric Vehicles (EVs). The principle objective of the research is to generate an understanding of challenges and opportunities for the development and implementation of an automated robotic disassembly approach to aid with EoL management of electrical and electronic components within EVs.
The research contributions are considered in three main parts. The first part contains a review of advancement in the development of automotive technology, and in particular the alternative fuel vehicles. A review of existing industrial recycling technologies and processes has been conducted which highlighted a number of key challenges in the adoption of current recycling technologies for EVs. The review concludes that there is a need to develop novel recycling technologies and processes to deal with the increased part complexity and material mixture in such vehicles.
In this context, the second part of the research details a framework for EoL management of EV components. This framework presents a comprehensive automated robotic disassembly approach in which three specific steps are defined, namely manual disassembly to develop an understanding of product design, initial automated disassembly to test process capability, and optimisation and validation to improve repeatability and efficiency of the robotic disassembly operations. The framework also includes the development of a multi-criteria decision-making tool that assesses the environmental, technological and economic benefits of such robotic disassembly approach.
The applicability of the research concepts has been demonstrated via three case studies. The results have highlighted the applicability of the automated robotic disassembly approach in a variety of scenarios of different design complexity and recovery rate. The results indicate that the adoption of this robotic disassembly enhances the pre-concentration of Strategically Important Materials (SIMs) and leads to minimisation of environmental impacts and increased material recovery value.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.