Demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is skyrocketing due to climate change concerns. EVs reduce emissions from cars, trucks and buses, which account for 30% of greenhouse gas pollutants.
The switch to EVs is growing worldwide. His website for Simply Insurance predicts that by 2040, 58% of global car sales will be electric.
In 2021, China’s EV sales will jump to 3.3 million units. Chinese government officials have told automakers that by 2030, electric vehicles (EVs) will make up 40% of his total sales (39.78 million).
Western states such as California, Washington, and Oregon have their respective governors enact similar governments that require all new cars, trucks, and SUVs sold after 2035 to run on batteries or hydrogen. creating an order. Currently, Washington has 84,000 EVs, and his goal is to reach 1 million by the end of the decade.
A very difficult task is finding sufficient amounts of lithium, nickel, cobalt and graphite to manufacture them.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently reported that global lithium consumption alone has increased by 33% since 2020.
At least 384 new graphite, lithium, nickel and cobalt mines will be needed to meet demand, reports Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Most metals are mined in Indonesia, China, Australia, South Africa, Russia, Congo, and three South American countries (Chile, Brazil, and Argentina).
Together with Japan and South Korea, China accounts for 95% of the world’s lithium battery production. China has her 1 million tonnes of known lithium reserves, second only to Chile, Australia and Argentina.
“If you take raw material recycling into account, that number is about 336 mines,” predicts London-based Benchmark, which tracks supply chain data for lithium-ion batteries.
Better and more recycling is key to addressing these shortages and reducing the need for new mining. A recent study found that most lithium-ion batteries are not reprocessed. Currently, only 5% is recycled in the United States.
Nearly all lead-acid batteries in gasoline and diesel vehicles have been salvaged, but billions of used lithium-ion batteries are accumulating in landfills and storage.
According to IHC Markit analysis, there are currently about 10 billion or about 465,000 tonnes of used electric vehicle batteries needing treatment, and that number is expected to rise to 29 billion by 2025.
Much of today’s recycling consists of dropping whole batteries into furnaces to melt or shred them and pulverize them, added Ryan Melsert, CEO of American Battery Technology Company (ABTC). Melsert spearheaded Tesla’s efforts to “dismantle” or dismantle lithium batteries to develop recycling methods.
Mersart says there are lessons to be learned from lead-acid batteries, saying “anywhere you can buy them, you can return them.” Something similar must happen with lithium-ion batteries.
A newer closed-loop hydrometallurgical process that is environmentally friendly is being tested. RecycLiCo Battery Materials Inc. (Surrey, British Columbia) has patented the process and has a successful demonstration plant recovering over 99% of lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt. A system that can collect, reprocess, and reuse the leaching agent is attractive.
Recycling EV batteries is complicated. Electric vehicle batteries have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years, with approximately 3,000 battery cells per vehicle, depending on the model. These batteries come in all sizes and various configurations.
The scope of the problem is daunting. According to Princeton University’s Net Zero America study, reaching net zero emissions by mid-century will reduce the number of electric vehicles from about 1 million today to 210 to 330 million. means to increase.
Automakers need to invest additional resources and make recycling a higher priority. This is an integral part of business success.
– Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer, and columnist.he can be contacted at [email protected]