Life cycle thinking and safe-and-sustainable-by-design approaches for the battery innovation landscape


Life cycle thinking and safe-and-sustainable-by-design approaches for the battery innovation landscape

Wed, 26/10/2022 - 13:30 to 14:30


Lya Hernandez
Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment,

Lya G. Soeteman-Hernández*,1, Carlos Felipe Blanco2, Maarten Koese2, Adrienne J.A.M. Sips1, Cornelle W. Noorlander1, Willie J.G.M. Peijnenburg1,2

1National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Center for Safety of Substances and Products, Bilthoven, the Netherlands
2Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Leiden University, P. O. Box 9518, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands
Developments in battery technology are essential for the energy transition and need to follow the framework for the definition of Safe-and-Sustainable-by-Design (SSbD) criteria for SSbD chemicals and materials as set by the EU. SSbD is a broad approach which ensures that chemicals/advanced materials/products/services are produced and used in a way to avoid harm to humans and the environment. Here, technical and policy-related literature was surveyed for battery technologies and recommendations were provided for a broad SSbD approach that remains firmly grounded in Life Cycle Thinking principles. The approach integrates functional performance and sustainability (safety, social, environmental and economic) aspects throughout the life cycle of materials, products and processes, and evaluates how their interactions reflect on SSbD parameters. This review and the proposed approach is conducted in two phases. Firstly, aspirations and targets are identified which are used to define relevant toxicity/safety, environmental, social, functionality and economic parameters for batteries, including a qualitative review of the current situation, an inventory of possible SSbD strategies that can be applied at the design stage to improve these parameters (i.e. green chemistry and circular economy), and an outlook for the battery innovation landscape in meeting these SSbD parameters. In the second phase, 22 different types of batteries (liquid & polymer gel, solid state, redox-flow and hybrid) were analysed for criticality, toxicity/safety, environmental and social impact, circularity, functionality and cost. This analysis takes into account the big picture (life cycle thinking) to ensure battery innovation has a green and sustainable purpose to avoid unintended consequences.


Dr. Lya Soeteman-Hernandez
Senior Scientific Advisor
Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, RIVM
The Netherlands

Dr. Soeteman-Hernandez is a senior risk assessor, toxicologist and scientific advisor with vast experience in the development of system approaches and translating them into operational tools. She is one of the main developers of the Safe Innovation Approach which contains the concept of Regulatory Preparedness, Safe-by-Design and Trusted Environment. These concepts originate from the awareness that new technologies like nanotechnology have uncovered the limits of present regulatory systems and demand more agile governance systems.
Dr. Soeteman-Hernandez is co-chair and Leading Expert at the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials Safe Innovation Approach Steering Group, where she assesses how the international community apply innovative ideas/approaches in the context of regulatory frameworks. Here, we gather experiences and insights on which factors and actions are pivotal in international regulatory frameworks to move away from the traditional checklist mentality and towards pro-active, co-creative and inclusive approaches to improve nano risk governance. She is also involved as a work package or task leader in many European projects working on the operationalization of safe-and-sustainable-by-design (SUNSHINE, PARC, IRISS, SURPASS, SAbyNA).