Ph. D. Project
Formalisation and evaluation of logistics flows in a circular economy context: the case of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars
2022/04/01 - 2025/02/28
Other supervisor(s):
Sebastien Liarté (
In 2015, the United Nations established the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and thus determined 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that
should be adopted by all member states in order to achieve peace and prosperity for the future of all people on the planet (United Nations, 2020). Achieving
these goals is a shared responsibility and requires collective efforts from all actors around the world (Bowen et al. 2017). In particular, business activities are
considered to have major effects on the environment and society (Vuong, et al. 2021). The focus on technological development is seen as a central factor in
achieving rapid progress towards these SDGs (Walsh, et al.2020).
In the automotive industry, for example, the development of electric vehicles (EVs) is seen by many as a way to combat climate change and the energy crisis
(Alfaro-Algaba and Ramirez, 2020; Hua et al., 2020; Zeng et al., 2020). As a result, many countries have recently set clear targets for the electric vehicle
sector. This is notably the case in France, Germany, the Netherlands or the United Kingdom, which are seeking to ban thermal vehicles by 2040 (Crabtree,
2019; International Energy Agency, 2019). As a result, more than 100 million electric vehicles are expected to be on the road worldwide by 2030 (Pillot,

Despite the expected positive environmental consequences, this development raises new questions. In particular, it is necessary to consider the place and
specific treatment to be given to a central element of the EV: the lithium-ion battery (LIB). Given the share of cost that the battery represents in the
production cost of an electric vehicle and its critical role in the final product, it is indeed central to try to optimise the entire value chain specific to the
battery. While attention is regularly paid to the technological and industrial dimension for the production of ever more powerful batteries, it now seems
essential to pay greater attention to the logistical dimension, with particular emphasis on the transport of batteries.

In addition to being transported from production to assembly sites, EV batteries have a limited lifespan and must be replaced after an estimated 10-15 years.
The growing stock of used batteries will become a serious problem from a commercial and environmental point of view, but also because of their hazardous
nature due to the presence of reactive materials and flammable solvents. According to a European directive, the car manufacturer is responsible for these
batteries at the end of their life. In particular, they must ensure that 50% of their components are recycled at present and nearly 80% in the coming years (R.
Perraud 2020).

In particular, given possible supply difficulties, the significant generation of waste, the cost and the polluting nature of certain components, the players in the
sector are increasingly invited to implement a circular economy and to think about the remanufacturing of batteries with a view to revaluing the product.
The aim is to "close and lengthen" the loop by reducing waste production as much as possible, to optimise the value chain of the materials used and to
extend the life cycle in terms of use of lithium-ion batteries. Manufacturers, public authorities and academics have initiated a real reflection in this field on a
national and European scale.
In this context, one fundamental dimension seems to be forgotten or at least under-studied: transport. Given their weight and dangerousness, electric vehicle
batteries are complex and expensive to transport. However, the circular economy implies numerous interactions between several entities within the same
ecosystem (manufacturers, assemblers, collectors, recyclers, repairers, re-users, logisticians, etc.). This raises the question of the routing of batteries between
players who may be thousands of kilometres apart. Underlying this is also the issue of storage sizing according to the logistics flow organisation options
chosen. Of course, the considerations go beyond cost and safety, and must also include legal and environmental considerations. In other words, it is
necessary to evaluate the different transport alternatives taking into account these different criteria.

In this context, it appears necessary to study in depth the logistical aspect in the context of the circular economy of the EV industry especially in terms of
BLI management. For example, it is essential to know what happens to these batteries after their use, and how they are collected and transported in order to
give them a second life or to undergo chemical transformation processes. It is also important to consider how to define an optimal process in terms of added
value for the customer, society and the environment.
Anticipating the importance and specificity of the logistic flow of electric batteries, CEVA Logistics has created a new department, CEVA Battery Logistics,
in charge of the process and improvement of the transport and storage of electric batteries, with the objective of increasing the added value for customers in
France and abroad at this level.
Eco-Technic systems engineering