Although electric vehicles (EVs) lower emissions, the lithium-ion batteries that power them provide a particular sustainability problem. Electric vehicles will be critical in lowering pollution and reaching climate change targets. To achieve this, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that worldwide EV stock will need to grow at a rate of 36% per year until 2030, when it will reach 245 million vehicles.
While electric vehicles do not emit CO2, lithium-ion batteries are made from cobalt, lithium, and nickel as basic materials. Many of these resources are mined, which can cause ethical and environmental issues, and some of these metals may face a global shortage due to projected battery demand. Furthermore, although nearly all lead batteries are recycled (99 percent), lithium ion batteries are not.
According to some estimates, the percentage may be as low as 5%.This is due to the fact that lithium ion batteries are both expensive and difficult to recycle. “While you can re-use most parts in EVs, the batteries aren’t designed to be recycled or reused,” according to a recent Wired piece. Metals from the batteries can contaminate both water and soil once they’ve been disposed of in landfills.
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According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the amount of vehicle battery capacity that may be repurposed will increase by 560 percent by 2030. With ever-increasing demand, batteries provide a significant waste management concern. These flaws highlight the growing need for improved battery manufacturing and disposal techniques, as well as improved methods for preserving virgin materials. Here are five organizations that can help.
1. Materials made of redwood
Redwood Materials, established in Nevada, aspires to be the world’s leading battery recycling firm. By recovering, reusing, and recirculating raw elements such as cobalt, copper, and nickel from end-of-life batteries, it seeks to create a circular or “closed loop” supply chain.
Redwood employs pyrometallurgy, which involves burning batteries to remove undesired organic materials and polymers, as well as hydrometallurgy, which involves soaking lithium-ion cells in acids to dissolve the metals into a solution. The company planned to recycle more than 1GWh of battery scrap materials by 2020.
2. Lithium-Ion Batteries
Li-Cycle bills itself as a closed-loop lithium-ion resource recovery company that, like Redwood Materials, aspires to make electric vehicle batteries really sustainable. According to the Canadian business, 1.7 million tonnes of lithium-ion batteries are expected to reach the end of their useful life by 2020.
This figure is expected to climb to almost 15 million metric tonnes by 2030.
Li-Cycle contributes to the circular economy by recovering more than 95 percent of the raw materials found in lithium-ion batteries by skipping the smelting step and relying solely on leaching.
Aceleron, a clean technology business based in the United Kingdom, claims to have developed the world’s most sustainable lithium battery packs using revolutionary technologies. The Telegraph quoted Aceleron co-founder and CTO Carlton Cummings as saying, “The reason we have such a struggle today with reusing a lot of batteries is actually because many of them were not constructed with the next stage of their life in mind.”
According to Cummings, making batteries that are easier to disassemble will encourage reuse and foster a circular ecology. It will also increase storage capacity by allowing batteries to be recycled to help store electricity at EV charging stations.
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4. The ReCell Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to
The ReCell Center of the US Department of Energy is a partnership of academia, business, and national laboratories dedicated to improving lithium-ion recycling processes. Its goal is to make battery recycling economical by recovering high-value materials and optimizing yield, productivity, and cost.
The ReCell Center also expects that by employing science-based solutions to generate cost-effective lithium-battery recycling, the United States will be able to minimize waste, create jobs, and lessen its dependency on foreign raw materials.
5. The Global Battery Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to
The Global Battery Alliance (GBA) of the World Economic Forum is a public-private partnership of organizations that contend that a circular battery value chain is a critical component of achieving the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree Celsius climate objective in the transportation and power sectors.
According to the GBA, batteries might help achieve 30% of the required reductions in carbon emissions in the two industries to meet the Paris Agreement’s 2°C objective. By 2030, they could offer electricity to 600 million people and create 10 million long-term jobs around the planet.
Its Battery Passport project aims to develop a digital depiction of a battery that will serve as a “quality seal” for consumers when it comes to sustainability.