Digital product passports for EV batteries: What it is, why it’s important and how labels will play a critical role

Electric Vehicle batteries are the heart of the EV and the most critical component in creating an electrified future. And the future of EV battery production is looking bright. 

Improved battery technology has given EVs greater range and longer charge, and dropping battery prices means battery production is on the fast track. As a result, conditions are favorable for this growing market. However, while EVs have significant benefits to the environment, a large amount of fossil fuels are required to manufacture batteries, contributing to rising carbon emissions. 

Sustainable product initiatives that regulate EV battery manufacturing are being launched that help counter the waste generated by battery production. The purpose of these initiatives is to ensure battery components are properly reused, repaired or recycled and therefore kept in circulation for as long as possible.

Introducing digital passports for battery cells 

In an effort to provide more transparency into the energy-storage value chain, the European Commission plans to introduce a 'digital product passport' (DPP) this year, requiring all goods in the EU to be equipped with a digital ID. Using a digital ID to track a product's life cycle gives visibility into the value chain and helps boost the chance of it being recycled or reused. The data harnessed through a DPP can be used to essentially slow down the consumption of natural resources. 

Germany's recent launch of the world's first "battery pass" for EVs is the first project that requires all batteries in the country to contain a DPP. The passport allows complete transparency of a battery's journey – from production until the end of life and on to the second life. The results from this pilot will provide learnings to the European Commission on how to implement the DPP initiative throughout the EU. 

Breathing new life into EV batteries 

The ultimate goal behind the DPP for EV batteries is to reduce waste by extending the battery's lifespan. Enabling batteries with digital IDs informs manufacturers where and how they can be repurposed once their capacity no longer satisfies the standards required by the vehicle. When the battery is no longer fit for EVs, stationary energy-storage systems can still benefit from their existing electrical charge for decades to come. For example, commercial buildings such as hospitals can utilize retired car batteries as backup power in case of an outage. 

Digital product passports for EV batteries

Preparing for new legislation

So what does all this mean for future labeling requirements of EV batteries? First and foremost, label materials must meet high standards for durability and perform under harsh conditions. In the future, as legislation establishes mandatory sustainability requirements and end-of-life battery management, OEMs must consider intelligent labeling solutions that enable a second-life. 

There is a growing need for labeling solutions that meet strict qualification requirements and legislation – presenting an exciting opportunity for the automotive industry. 

Building the foundation: Sustainable pressure-sensitive materials for EV batteries

As the EV battery industry grows, new specifications are coming to light, resulting in the need for even more pressure-sensitive materials. The industry has identified additional labeling requirements that ensure safety, insulation and readability for EV battery components, such as: 

  • Self-extinguishing facestocks and adhesives with slow-burning materials

  • Materials with greater dielectric strength that offer better electrical insulation

  • High shear adhesives that can withstand mechanical stressors such as abrasions and punching

  • Greater resistance to acetone, xylene and other harsh chemicals that ensure the visibility of printed information

As we work towards supplying our customers with solutions that meet these standards, we cannot overlook the environmental impact of our materials. Our facestocks with PET contain up to 70% of recycled content, and our rPET liners contain 30% recycled content. Connecting pressure-sensitive materials with sustainability builds the label's foundation, but bridging the physical with the digital is the key to keeping EV batteries in circulation as long as possible. 

Connect the physical with the digital using RFID

Through the IoT – the internet of things – EV battery components connect with the online ecosystem, unlocking the potential for a new second-life battery supply. Inserting RFID labeling technology into standard label constructs equips labels with added digital capabilities that offer vast data storage capabilities from asset tracking, to supply chain transparency and more. 

RFID tags connect to our product cloud, where it's assigned a unique digital ID – providing end-to-end transparency by recording all events associated with that product. For example, battery cells can be successfully tracked throughout their lifetime, thus satisfying the European Commission's DPP goals. RFID enabled labels will become increasingly important in supporting a circular economy and be crucial to the success of future sustainable product initiatives.

A bright future for automotive labeling opportunities

It's no secret that the EV battery market is growing in complexity. RFID technology will become increasingly vital as the passport rolls out across Europe, thus requiring OEMs to incorporate battery-storage solutions into their products. And the needs for sustainable pressure-sensitive materials will be a continuous evolution. 

With our unique combination of materials expertise and end-to-end technology, Avery Dennison is committed to providing your business with automotive solutions that fit your every need - and then some. If we don't have a material in-house, we can engineer solutions tailored to your request. 

For more information on labeling materials for EV batteries, contact your Avery Dennison representative. Discover Avery Dennison's automotive labeling solutions in our updated product guide, or have a look at our intelligent labeling brochure.