HIU 04-18 Masterthesis: Social life cycle assessment of battery recycling

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) - KIT - Helmholtz Association

Karlsruhe, Germany

Work group:

Helmholtz Institute Ulm for Electrochemical Energy Storage (HIU)

Area of research:

Diploma & Master Thesis

Job description:

HIU and ITAS are offering a joint Masterthesis in the field of social life cycle assessment applied to battery recycling processes. Working Place: ITAS (Karlsruhe Europaplatz)

Within the ongoing energy transition, increasing amounts of secondary batteries will be needed for stationary and mobile applications. This goes along with concerns about resource availability and environmental impacts associated with raw material mining, but also about possible social implications. A good example for the latter is cobalt, whose mining is repeatedly being related with poor working conditions, exploitation and child labour. While in general, the potential impacts and benefits of lithium-ion battery recycling are less investigated than those associated with their production and use, still a few works exist that try to quantify them. In contrast, no assessment of possible social impacts and benefits of battery recycling has yet been made. Within the suggested Thesis, recycling of different types of lithium-ion batteries shall be assessed under environmental aspects via social Life Cycle Assessment (s-LCA). The work will be based on the new social LCA database PSILCA / SOCA developed by GreenDelta for openLCA. Therefore, it requires a good understanding of the LCA methodology and, if possible, the ecoinvent database. After thorough familiarisation with the PSILCA database and the underlying methodology, social impact factors shall be added to existing inventory models for recycling processes. This might require also an analysis of the origins of the different raw materials required for the batteries. Social impacts shall be calculated on this basis for new and recycled batteries of different battery types, providing an idea of the potential social benefits of battery recycling and corresponding hotspots, but also of the general applicability of the PSILCA methodology for social impact assessment of battery processes. 

Good technical understanding, background in industrial engineering, social sciences, system analysis or similar. First experience with LCA and OpenLCA is advantageous. Skilled in MS- Office (Excel and Word), very good English. Organised and reliable, working independently and self-motivated.

Contract duration

6 months

Contact person

Dr. Jens Peters (HIU), phone: 0721/ 608- 28177

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: Helmholtz-1823