Can Outdated EV Batteries Be Recycled? – Assessment Geek

Tesla Model S parked next to a line of Superchargers
Grisha Bruev/

In case you haven’t seen, automobiles in all places are going electrical. As extra EVs hit the street over the subsequent decade or so, what occurs to all of the previous used batteries? Whereas it’s not an enormous downside but, it’ll be an enormous one quickly.

Roughly 10 million battery-powered autos are rolling round at the moment, however some companies predict that quantity will grow to over 200 million by the last decade’s finish. Contemplating that, EV battery recycling might be a large activity within the years forward.

What Occurs to Outdated EV Batteries?

EV car battery pack
Sergii Chernov/

The primary business lithium-ion battery was launched in 1991, and since then, the know-how has improved by leaps and bounds. That stated, Lithium-ion batteries stay a considerable environmental hazard and have a comparatively quick life cycle. Moreover, the recycling course of is complicated, harmful, and time-consuming.

Your typical EV battery can simply final for over 10+ years, and plenty of trendy EVs include an 8-year battery guarantee in america. Meaning Tesla, Ford, and others assure the battery for as much as eight years or 100,000 miles.

Most EVs on the street aren’t that previous but, however they are going to be quickly. Consequently, we’re not fully certain what producers plan on doing with the rise of harmful, poisonous EV battery materials.

How are previous EV batteries recycled, or how are they saved whereas we determine one of the best path ahead? Are they secure, or are some leaking poisonous chemical compounds into the bottom? We’re undecided.

Tesla, the preferred EV producer as of late, claims that it may well recycle and reuse as much as 92% of an previous EV battery. The corporate has an EV sustainability and recycling support page that means, “none of our scrapped lithium-ion batteries go to landfilling, and 100% are recycled.”

That’s promising and means that Tesla recycles and reuses every little thing, however that sounds too good to be true. Tesla is only one of many producers which is able to face an unlimited battle later down the street. As a result of, once more, lithium-ion batteries, like different electronics, are poisonous.

The Course of is Tough

Tesla battery cell in a hand

If we haven’t made it clear but, dealing with, storing, and ultimately recycling EV batteries might be an enormous enterprise. Producers in all places are speaking about how EVs are good for the atmosphere and cleaner than fuel, however what in regards to the large battery packs powering every little thing?

In keeping with the positioning TreeHugger, battery recycling is carried out one pack at a time. Auto producers use highly effective glue to maintain every little thing safely collectively, which have to be damaged down. Consequently, the battery cells get shredded, heated as much as the purpose they burn, dissolve right into a pool of acid, and extra at particular amenities. It’s a nasty job that releases carbon emissions, however that’s one other matter fully.

The opposite downside is that Lithium-ion and nickel aren’t even probably the most worthwhile half to recycle and reuse. That’s really cobalt, an costly materials that’s in brief provide. Tesla recently confirmed that half of its autos at the moment are cobalt-free, and others try to do the identical.

For now, battery producers are busy making an attempt to determine methods to chop sure chemical compounds out of battery cells or discover one of the best ways to recycle and reuse as a lot as attainable.

What’s Taking place Now?

A pre-production Ford F-150 EV.

Contemplating most EVs on the roads are nonetheless younger, the batteries inside don’t must be recycled but. However, as we inch nearer to that actuality, producers and corporations in all places try to determine an answer.

For instance, Ford teamed up with a recycling firm often known as Redwood Supplies, based by Tesla’s ex-CTO JB Straubel. The auto-maker not too long ago invested $50 million in Redwood Supplies and can give them a spot to ship previous batteries whereas making an attempt to be as sustainable as attainable.

Redwood Supplies is situated in Carson Metropolis, Nevada, and has a plan in movement with Ford and Volvo to recycle EV batteries in California, a number one state for EV possession.

We’ve additionally seen a rise in start-ups that suppose they’re as much as the duty of recycling previous EV batteries. A type of is Ascend Elements, which claims it may well flip previous lithium-ion batteries into new ones which might be longer-lasting, cost sooner, and are higher for the atmosphere. As well as, the corporate says, “our patented Hydro-to-Cathode™ course of transforms at the moment’s waste into high-value supplies for tomorrow’s EV batteries — a large step up in sustainability for your entire business.”

And at last, manufacturers like Volvo and Porsche are trying into solid-state battery know-how, which cuts out the lithium-ion gel. As well as, Toyota’s upcoming Prius reboot will use a solid-state battery.

Sadly, there isn’t any fast repair, and that is solely the start.