Why is recycling of electric vehicle batteries important?
Batteries in electric vehicles contain expensive, strategic and rare raw materials, including Nickel, Lithium, Cobalt, Manganese and Aluminium. Recycling allows recovering raw materials from used products. In the next steps, these materials are used in new products, e.g., new batteries. This is also called circular economy, as raw materials are reused over and over again. A circular economy is a key cornerstone for a sustainable and greener future.
Re-using the materials through recycling has two main advantages. On the one hand, less battery materials have to be newly mined. Mining is an extremly costly process, which causes a lot of CO2 and is often unsustainable (Müncon also works with companies on sustainable
mining). One the other hand, dependence on materials that are only available in a handful of countries can be reduced. Therefore, recycling of electric vehicles is of great importance for our future.
When are batteries due for recycling?
Once Electric Vehicles reach their End-of-Life (typically after around 10 years), the batteries are reused in second life applications
. After another 5-10 years, the batteries are technically unsuitable for futher applications. In this case, these electric vehicle batteries have to be recycled. After recycling, the raw materials can be reused in new products, e.g., new batteries.
However, nobody know how long electric vehicle batteries will be in use before they get recycled. Others suggest, that batteries will be in use for up to 20 years in their first life
. Additionally, it is not clear, how batteries will be collected and which recycling technology will dominate in a few years and how this will affect the willingness to recycle earlier or later. Hence, a clear answer to this question is not yet established.
How promising is recycling?
New methods promise to recycle more than 95%
of a Electric Vehicle Battery. There are three different state-of-the-art methods for recycling: mechanical recycling, pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. While these technologies are already used and often combined with each other, multiple other technolgies are under development. Currently, hydrometallurgy is favored by many leading companies. Yet, all process have multiple drawbacks. Furthermore, logistics is an important factor which has to be considered when recycling batteries. For more insights in recycling technologies and logistics in recycling, feel free to contact us.
As more and more batteries reach their End-of-Life, the recycling technology will certainly develop futher. In Europe, millions over millions have been invested in a promising market
, while in China and South Korea, established payers have formed over the past decade. These players are also entering the European market, most prominently in Hungary
The video below shows an example of how (mechanical) battery recylcing is carried out: