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How Old Batteries Will Help Power Tomorrow’s EVs

Original source: MIT


To Redwood Materials, the rows of cardboard boxes in its gravel parking lot represent both the past and the future of electric vehicles. The makeshift storage space stretches for over 10 acres at Redwood’s new battery recycling site just outside Reno, Nevada. Most of the boxes are about the size of a washing machine and are wrapped in white plastic. But some lie open, revealing their contents: wirelesss keyboards, discarded toys, chunks of used Honda Civic batteries.

Far from trash, the battery materials in all these discarded items are a prize—the metals are valuable ingredients that could be critical to meeting exploding demand for electric vehicles.

Redwood Materials is one of a growing number of recycling companies working to provide an alternative to the landfill for lithium-ion batteries used in electronics and EVs. The company announced its plans for this $3.5 billion plant in Reno in mid-2022. The facility is expected to produce material for 1 million lithium-ion EV batteries by 2025, ramping up to 5 million by 2030. Redwood plans to start construction on an additional facility in the eastern US in 2023.

Meanwhile, the Canadian firm Li-Cycle currently operates four commercial facilities that can together recycle about 30,000 metric tons of batteries annually, with an additional three sites planned. Other US-based startups, like American Battery Technology Company, have also announced large commercial tests, joining an established recycling market in China and Europe.

While these new recycling ventures are better for the environment than burying metals in landfills, they’re also spurred by a booming market for electric vehicles. EV adoption is exploding in the US and around the world, bringing new demand for the metals that go into their batteries, especially lithium, nickel, and cobalt. EVs are expected to account for 13% of new vehicle sales in 2022, a number that’s expected to climb to about 30% by 2030. Supplying all those cars with batteries will require far more metals than are currently available.

More than 200 new mines could be needed by 2035 to provide enough material for just the cobalt, lithium, and nickel needed for EV batteries. Lithium production will need to grow by 20 times to meet demand for EVs by 2050.

Recycling could represent a major new source of raw materials. Globally, there was over 600,000 metric tons of recyclable lithium-ion batteries and related manufacturing scrap in 2021. That number is expected to top 1.6 million metric tons by 2030, according to the consulting firm Circular Energy Storage. And it could really take off after that, as the first generation of electric cars heads for the junkyards.

New advances in the recycling process for lithium-­ion batteries are...CLICK ON SOURCE LINK FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

... GO TO Old Batteries Will Help Power Tomorrow TO READ MORE

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