The Unwritten risks of E-mobility batteries

By Katelyn Tomaszewski

E-scooters and e-bikes are helping transport people while reducing greenhouse gases and increasing access to transportation. The growing popularity of these e-mobility vehicles has led to programs across America, including the new e-scooter pilot program by New York City that launched in August 2021 in the Bronx (Hawkins, 2021). Veo, Brid, and Lime are all part of the pilot. Programs like this are popping up across the United States from coast to coast.  

With the rapid growth of e-mobility comes the regulations and safety standards for handling these e-scooters/e-bikes. Companies are even including features to enhance safety, like Lime’s safety quiz that will require new riders to take before going for a recovery. Safety is an essential aspect of transportation, no matter how many wheels we are on. There are many aspects to safety, from design and test requirements to how a battery is changed out. The monitoring of battery pack conditions helps ensure the preservation of the unit and the user’s safety. By monitoring batteries consistently, abnormalities can be detected quicker and can mitigate potential safety risks. In addition, consistent monitoring helps operators predict how much life is left in the batteries, allowing them to determine when these batteries need a replacement quickly. 

Most of the batteries used in micro-mobility today are lithium-ion because of their high energy density and rechargeability. However, it’s important to note that even the best batteries can experience failures. That’s why education is critical from the unit user to the teams in the field – proper handling and understanding are vital.  

There are two main types of battery approaches to micro-mobility – embedded and swappable. There are positives and challenges to both. 

Embedded 

   Benefits

  • Reduced risk, less potential for damage, and mishandling because the units have fewer moving parts. 

   Challenges

  • Unit replacement
Swappable

   Benefits

  • Reduced downtime for recharging 

   Challenges 

  • Frequent inspections 
  • Tamper potential  

When evaluating batteries, monitoring during use and disposal at end-of-life are critical. In addition, when recycled, the valuable materials from these batteries get reentered into the value chain contributing to a circular economy. 

Built-in batteries are not the only types of batteries in micro-mobility today. A growing trend is swappable batteries, which allow for easy recharging without collecting complete scooters/ bikes. While this helps address the need to transport the entire unit for maintenance, the safety of employees should be considered. When batteries are changed out, there is an increased risk of damage, improper placement into the unit, and more. Therefore, safety should be at the forefront of educational materials for staff. These educational materials and pieces of training should include directions for the individuals handling the batteries and information on handling damaged batteries.  

Battery failures are more than just an environmental concern; they pose serious safety risks to employees. These batteries have a high energy density and rely on stable conditions to function safely. When these batteries get damaged, they pose an even more significant safety risk.  

Talk with our experts today to learn more about battery safety our battery recycling programs. With 30 years of experience in transporting, receiving, handling, and managing batteries, we make battery recycling what it should be, EASY.  

Sources:

 1. Hawkins, A. J. (2021, August 17). Scooter sharing has finally come to NYC – is the city ready? The Verge. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/17/22627387/scooter-share-nyc-bronx-bike-lanes-injuries-lime-bird-veo. 

2. Rushforth, S. (2020, November 25). Understanding the risk of swappable e-scooter Batteries. Smart Cities Dive—retrieved September 10, 2021, from https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/news/understanding-the-risk-of-swappable-e-scooter-batteries-bird/589725/.