What happens to all the old EV batteries?

As the future goes electric, consumers are wondering where their car batteries come from and what happens to them when they’re replaced. It’s smart to be concerned about the environmental impact of these things on our planet. We’ll take a closer look at the EV battery process from start to finish. From recycling old to building new, your questions are sure to be answered here!

Related: This Trailer Can Charge Your EV in the Desert (And Take Your Gear There)

EV Batteries Are Serious Business

Giorno2<\/a> via Wikimedia””>

Giorno2 via Wikimedia

Front street view of the CATL battery plant, which produces batteries for electric vehicles worldwide.

One would think that once an electric car starts to wear out, they throw all the stuff into the car shredder at the local dump. Maybe that’s how things worked in the olden days, but not now. Battery recycling has grown rapidly over the past few decades and is now standard practice when dealing with this potentially toxic waste. While much work is being done to advance EV production to replace fossil fuel vehicles forever, many people are working to make sure EV batteries are reused, repurposed and properly recycled. That process is largely left to EV companies, especially in California, where EV sales are expected to completely replace gas-powered cars by 2035. The more EVs we buy, the faster the rate of vehicle retirement – which means we need to be ready to handle all the batteries that come. So, how exactly does this process work?


Related: Polestar Wants to Lead the EV Landscape, and It Has the Funding

EV Batteries Are Recycled In Several Ways

Gavin Anderson<\/a> via Wikimedia””>

EV battery grid storage forklift replacement
Gavin Anderson via Wikimedia

Rear angle view of forklift replacing EV batteries in warehouse.

The assumption for most batteries is that they become worthless once they start to lose their charge. Yes, it won’t be good for the environment if you just throw them in the trash on your way to the landfill. But if given to the right collector (most likely the car company itself when trading it in for a new one), then you’ll be doing the planet and the economy a favor. Batteries are often reused in other ways, such as being placed in packs (multiple batteries connected together) on your local power grid (or off the private grid) to store power through solar energy during the day and withdraw it at night. Consider the next time you’re power-sucking in a man cave late at night!

Related: ZEM: An Electric Car That Cleans the Air While Driving

Old EV batteries are turned into new batteries

Tokumeigakarinoaoshima<\/a> via Wikimedia””>

Toyota EV86 hood open
Tokumeigakarinoaoshima via Wikimedia

A front view of a Toyota EV86 with the hood open to reveal its battery.

Even after being reused, batteries will continue to lose their charge over time and eventually die. Here comes the part with a heavy dose of science. Thanks to advances in the industry, hydrometallurgy is mainly used to break down, separate and recycle the various components that make up car batteries. This process is not groundbreaking – it’s been around for over a decade now – and continues to evolve and improve every year. Here’s how it actually works: Batteries are thrown into giant shredders that break them into tiny pieces. This shredded mixture is then dumped into water where the plastic (floats) is separated from the metal (sinks). Plastic is recycled and metal is separated and reused in – you guessed it – new batteries! Many of these recycling companies are located right here in the United States. And while they may tweak the process a bit here and there – the basic fundamentals remain the same. The best part is that these companies rate EV battery material recovery rates as high as 98 percent.

Related: Hyundai Invests Big in US EV Battery Manufacturing

EV Batteries Use Raw and Recycled Materials

Steve Jurvetson<\/a> via Wikimedia””>

Tesla factory floor in front of the car
Steve Jurvetson via Wikimedia

Interior view of the Tesla factory

Now that we have all of these wonderful recycled materials, we come full circle. It’s a question of “how exactly are car batteries made?” The construction process, like the recycling process, has come a long way over the decades. Older lead and acid batteries are rapidly being phased out and replaced by lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries are made using carbon or graphite, metal oxide and lithium salt – these substances are combined to form positive and negative electrodes. When combined with electrolytes, they produce the electrical current your car requires. Batteries are made in large manufacturing plants that produce the new batteries in our cars as they roll off the lot. They are recycled after aging. The future looks bright thanks to this whole process – from new production to disintegration of the old. New research shows that by 2050, recycled materials could provide 45-52 percent of cobalt, 22-27 percent of lithium and 40-46 percent of nickel used in US auto markets.

Related: An onslaught of new EV startups seems imminent

Myths About EV Battery Recycling

Janak Bhatta<\/a> via Wikimedia””>

Factory spews air pollution into the sunset
Janak Bhatta via Wikimedia

Exterior view of a factory spewing air pollution during sunset.

Many people may hear the positives of recycling car batteries (and all batteries in general) and think there are no downsides to it – but like most things in our world, it’s still not a perfect process. Waste is inevitably generated by the battery recycling process, creating toxic waste sites to combat. However, the good news is that these battery recycling companies have a strong incentive to reduce waste because they can sell the materials they save – the more they can save / recycle, the more money they can make. The factories they build get better with each new design, and they can save larger and larger amounts of material from the batteries they break down, melt down, and resell to the hungry battery industry. This helps reduce the number of toxic environments created by mining and old-style recycling centers when going after fresh or poorly recycled products. However, it is important to note here that even with “dirty recycling” of treated waste, it is better for the environment and a better investment than the old ways of relying on oil for new products. . Incorporating chemists and engineers into projects increases the numbers faster and faster with cleaner recycling, in some cases reaching almost 100 percent success rates.

Related: EV growth is a boon for Chevy and Ford as Toyota and Honda lose ground, but Tesla is still king

Yoshi Canopus<\/a> via Wikimedia””>

External view of the oil field
Yoshi Canopus via Wikimedia

Exterior view of an oil field located in Panjin, Liaoning, China.

Another myth swirling around the EV industry is that nothing is trying to stop them – this is far from the truth. The oil industry has been trying to fend off electric vehicle competition for decades now, and today is no different. However, the oil companies found it harder to apply pressure this time because the companies they were trying to squeeze around had as much money as the oil companies, as did all their friends. Gasoline was the glue that held the two types of companies together, as our forefathers knew them well. Unfortunately, this glue has worn out and is not aging well – it is being replaced. That’s not to say that oil doesn’t still have modern uses — but when it comes to cars and much of the power grid, the future is electric. The more emissions we can get rid of, the better. The oil industry is a lot like the cigarette industry – it just can’t put enough money into the problem of killing millions of people to get away with it. Cigarette smoke and pollutant emissions are similar in many ways – both are deadly to mankind. Moving to electric transportation and grid systems will reduce emissions so much that we can help ensure a brighter future for our children who will inherit the planet.

Frequently asked questions

Q: How are electric batteries handled when they are worn out?

As long as they are disposed of properly, most car batteries are either reused or recycled.

Q: How Are EV Batteries Recycled and Recycled?

Car batteries are typically grouped together in large groups to create giant energy storage units that can be used in a variety of ways, such as storing energy for your city’s power grid.

Q: How are electric batteries recycled after they die?

When the battery is finally exhausted beyond use, it falls apart. The components are then separated using hydrometallurgy and recycled to make new batteries.

Q: How are EV batteries made?

EV car batteries are manufactured in large manufacturing plants that export batteries all over the world. They are made of carbon or graphite, metal oxide and lithium salt. Battery companies use a combination of raw and recycled materials to create new batteries.

Source link