Electric vehicle battery myths v. facts: The debate over ‘green’. Batteries on electric cars

Electric vehicle battery myths v. facts: The debate over ‘green’

Eric Wachsman, professor at the University of Maryland and director of Maryland Energy Innovation Institute, weighs in on some of the reasons why some people are not totally behind electric vehicles.

With inflation driving gas to an all-time high, consumers are flocking to dealerships to get themselves an electric vehicle (EV).

The may not be as competitive as some of the vehicles running on an internal combustion engine, but it’s the great long-term investment many are striving to achieve while, of course, minimizing their carbon footprint.

But are these cars — which manufacturers boast are better for the environment — as green as they seem?

One of the biggest issues that come up when comparing the environmental impacts of EVs versus internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV) is the battery.

Experts have weighed in on the controversial manufacturing surrounding EV batteries and while many huge automakers such as Chevrolet and Ford are starting to pump out EV models, consumers are still left to wonder: Do the environmental impacts outweigh the potential long-term benefits of moving towards an EV-dominated world?

Let’s look at some of the myths surrounding EV batteries.

Myth: EV batteries are just as bad for the environment as gas cars

There isn’t really a clear-cut true-or-false narrative when it comes to answering this question.

Most of the current battery chemistry relies on lithium and cobalt. Lithium is commonly mined out of the earth in huge pits or extracted by pumping a brine solution into a bore hole and evaporating the solution in sprawling above-ground ponds. Neither option is environmentally friendly.

Such lithium mining projects represent a challenge for environmentalists because they carry the promise of decarbonization in exchange for heavy impacts on ecosystems and local communities.

FILE. Brine evaporation pools at Liex’s 3Q lithium mine project near Fiambala, Catamarca province, Argentina, on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. (Anita Pouchard Serra/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The big challenge is making sure lithium mines are located in places where they do the least amount of damage, said Lisa Belenky, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.

It really is very site specific as far as what impacts it would have to the local species, water, Belenky said. Almost every energy project we look at for climate change has its own greenhouse gas footprint.

Cobalt is also an essential element in the rechargeable lithium batteries that fuel many electronic devices. The rise of smartphones in the past 20 years has created a large demand for the metal, and the growing popularity of electric cars is expected to further increase demand.

And just like with lithium or any mineral mining, cobalt is also not the most environmentally friendly. Mining creates waste that could potentially pollute local water supply, the air, the soil and the health of workers.

Regardless, the demand for the minerals remains. The World Bank estimates that the production of battery minerals, including graphite, nickel and cobalt, could increase by 500% by 2050.

FILE. The battery pack of a Volkswagen ID Buzz electric microbus on the assembly line during a media tour of the Volkswagen AG multipurpose and commercial vehicle plant in Hannover, Germany, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

But, like in any economy, when there is demand, there is innovation.

The ethical and environmental issues surrounding elements such as cobalt and lithium will be a thing of the past as the world moves towards a greener world, according to Eric Wachsman, professor at the University of Maryland and director of Maryland Energy Innovation Institute.

Everybody agrees, that’s not the best, Wachsman said of how the essential elements needed in an EV battery are acquired.

So you might have heard there was a Nobel Prize in 2019, John Goodenough and Stan Woodingham and Akira (Yoshino), these are the guys who invented the lithium-ion battery. They were using lithium cobalt oxide. That was sort of the first cathode material that was known; it was invented by John Goodenough, Wachsman explained. That was in Sony Handycams, remember those things? And the first cell phones. Those are being replaced now by a nickel-manganese cobalt, so NMC — less cobalt. And they keep changing the chemistry to go less and less cobalt. And now the nickel is starting to become an issue not because of the mining issue, like cobalt, but just the availability.

Wachsman pointed out several different battery chemistries that are being studied to open the door for more ethically-made and clean EV batteries to be mass-produced. But this isn’t like the field of dreams where if you make it, they will come.

There needs to be a demand for the product to justify investing time and money into figuring out better options for manufacturers.

Some of the types of battery chemistries being looked into are:

There are other chemistries out there. Lithium-sulfur is one out there. Sulfur is sort of a byproduct of hydrocarbon processing. It’s basically something people almost give away to get rid of, so those chemistries are coming along and they’re going to replace the current cobalt and that will disappear as an issue, Wachsman continued.

Myth: You can’t recycle EV batteries

Actually, you can, but again, there isn’t a huge market for recycling these types of batteries — yet.

There is a second life for batteries. There’s not a second life for your gas engine. I mean, when it dies, it’s dead. It’s basically just a boat anchor, you’ve got to pay to have it disposed of someplace, Wachsman explained.

He also noted that his home is powered by solar panels and, hypothetically, if he absolutely needed to, he could repurpose his electric vehicle battery to power his entire home.

A typical home with solar panels on the roof tends to have a 10-kW battery that powers them, according to Wachsman. Your Tesla has a 100-kW battery in it, so it could power my entire house, Wachsman posited.

There are several projects underway to make battery recycling more affordable, and it’s very likely that the company that pioneers the technology will reap huge rewards. In the event that lithium becomes scarce, that threshold for economic feasibility will also drop, according to The Associated Press.

Giant automakers such as Toyota and Ford have recently partnered with Redwood Materials Inc., a startup whose goal is to create an EV battery recycling system aimed at lowering the cost of electric vehicles overall and reducing the environmental impacts, according to Reuters.

FILE. Solar panels on the roof of a house in Beaufort Park on Nov. 20, 2016, in Maryland. (Benjamin C. Tankersley/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Myth: Charging is a pain because there aren’t enough stations

Many long-range drivers agree, this is true right now. But as with anything that is mass-produced, if there is a demand, companies will make more.

With some of the world’s top automakers jumping on the EV bandwagon — Honda, Toyota, Cadillac, Ford, Chrysler, the list goes on — the U.S. Environment Protection Agency says charging stations will crop up and add to the already 45,000 existing charging stations in the U.S. today.

With the development of direct-current fast charging, many new EVs can replenish 200-plus miles of range in only 20 minutes. The hidden component to worry about is where that energy comes from. than 60% of electricity in the U.S. is still generated using fossil fuels. But the share of renewable energy has doubled since the 1980s, and trends suggest that the pace will accelerate.

With the expected increase in EV sales, power consumption will understandably increase as well, straining an aging power grid. In energy-challenged California, that could spell disaster during summer months when rolling blackouts are already common. For now, it seems that solar on every roof may be the most viable solution, according to the car-buying experts at Edmunds.

Going green on the federal level

FILE. An ‘EV Charging Only’ sign is seen at a Power Up fast charger station for electric vehicles on April 14, 2022, in Pasadena, Calif. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced the availability of 5 billion in federal money to states over five years under President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, sketching out a vision of seamless climate-friendly car travel from coast to coast.

Under Transportation Department requirements, states must submit plans to the federal government and can begin construction by this fall if they FOCUS first on highway routes, rather than neighborhoods and shopping centers, that can allow people to take their electric vehicles long distances.

Currently, electric vehicle owners charge their vehicles at home 80% of the time, making the need for EV charging stations at colleges, apartment building parking lots or even public streets less urgent. But that is likely to change as more people who don’t have a garage to house a charging station buy EVs.

Direct-current fast chargers, which can charge a car up to 80% of its battery capacity in 20 to 45 minutes, are quite expensive, costing 40,000 to 100,000, limiting the number that can be built, but they enable drivers to quickly get back on a road such as a highway.

Jessika Trancik, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies EV charging, called the administration’s approach a good first step. She said a successful strategy to spur wider EV use will require charging stations in a host of different locations, including faster charging along highways and slower charging near homes and workplaces.

Even with limited resources, she said, federal money could be distributed to accelerate private investment, with greater government incentives for areas that might otherwise be underserved by the private sector.

It’s not about government going out and installing every one of these chargers themselves, she said. It’s also about nudging private sector investment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported out of Los Angeles.

The Future of EV Batteries

Imagine electric car batteries that could take you 500 miles on a charge. How about 1,100 miles on a charge! Incredible new technology is coming soon, from batteries as structural components to batteries extracted from seawater. All this and more is be researched as we speak.

Welcome to the Future of EV Batteries

The race for better electric car batteries is being called the next gold rush. Here’s what’s coming.

There are many new technologies coming that may make it easier to own and run a zero-emission vehicle. The woes of “range anxiety” and “long charging times” will soon be a thing of the past with battery packs offering over 500 miles of range between charges that only take a few seconds, and power available to you over the air.

We are at the threshold of a battery revolution. Electric car makers know that in order to get an EV in every garage, Americans demand more range and quicker charging. They are well aware of the limitations of the current lithium-ion batteries that power today’s EVs. While computer chips and operating systems continue to advance in saving power, battery packs have been the week link… until now.

Let’s take a look at research that may lead to an exciting new world of battery technology for tomorrow’s electric cars.

EV Batteries as Structural Components

Research at Chalmers University of Technology has been focusing on using new battery tech as a structural component of future electric cars. This could lead to lighter vehicles in which body parts are the batteries. Using carbon fiber as the negative electrode while the positive is a lithium iron phosphate, these batteries would be extremely stiff and rigid for structural components.

Carbon Nanotube Electrodes

NAWA Technologies has designed and patented an Ultra Fast Carbon Electrode that could change batteries as we know them. This utilizes a vertically-aligned carbon nanotube that can boost battery power ten times over current battery packs. It can also increase energy storage by a factor of three and increase the lifecycle of a battery five times over. NAWA says that charging time will be just five minutes to get to an 80 percent charge. This technology could be in production as soon as 2023.

Cobalt-Free Batteries

The University of Texas is working on a lithium-ion battery that doesn’t use cobalt as a cathode. Instead, it uses up to 89 percent nickel as well as aluminum and manganese. The motivation is that cobalt is rare, expensive, and harmful to source. The team at U of T say their batteries produce a more elegant distribution of ions as well.

A Chinese company called SVOLT is manufacturing cobalt-free batteries for the EV market. They claim to have a higher energy density, resulting in a vehicle range of up to an estimated 500 miles on a single charge.

Silicon Anode Batteries

Looking for a cure to unstable silicon in lithium-ion batteries, researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have developed a method to produce a hybrid anode that uses mesoporous silicon microparticles and carbon nanotubes. They hope to replace graphite as the anode and replace it with silicon, which has ten times the capacity. The goal is that this will improve battery performance. Best of all, the sourcing of this silicone is earth friendly as it is made from barley husk ash.

A Battery Extracted from Seawater

IBM Research has discovered a new battery chemistry that is free of heavy metals and can out-perform lithium-ion batteries. The materials are extracted from seawater. IBM says these batteries will be cheaper to make, can charge faster, and pack in higher energy density and power. The company is currently working with Mercedes-Benz to develop the technology.

Sand Batteries Offer Life

Researchers at the University of California Riverside are working on battery technology that uses sand in order to create pure silicon to achieve three times better performance than current graphite-based lithium-ion batteries. This new pure silicon also advances the lifespan of batteries.

A battery startup company called Silnano is bringing this technology to the market through funding by Daimler and BMW promising a 40 percent boost in battery performance in the near future.

Charing Electric Cars by Wi-Fi?

Imagine powering your car over Wi-Fi while you drive. You’d never have to recharge your battery by plugging in. While this technology is still a way off, researchers have developed a radio wave harvesting antenna that is only several atoms thick, that may be used to recharge future EVs over electromagnetic waves.

electric, vehicle, battery, myths, facts, debate

The concept involves incorporating the molybdenum disulphide rectenna so that AC power can be downloaded from Wi-Fi and converted to DC power to recharge a battery or to power an EV directly. Let’s just hope it doesn’t fry your brain at the same time.

Over the Air Ultrasound Charging

Another way to possibly transmit rechargeable power over the air is through ultrasound. A company called uBeam turns power into sound waves that can be beamed to your EV and then turned back into power. Right now, uBeam is experimenting with using this technology to power smartphones and laptops, but who knows where this might lead?

Charge Your EV in 5 Minutes

Speaking of smartphone charging, a start-up company called StoreDot that was born from the nanotech department of Tel Aviv University, has developed a charger that uses biological semiconductors. These use organic peptide compounds which are the building blocks of proteins. The result is a charger that can recharge your smartphone in just 60 seconds, and the organic compounds are non-flammable for safer charging. StoreDot is currently building batteries for EVs that will charge in five minutes and offer an estimated range of 300 miles.

Batteries that Never Die

Scientists at the University of California are working on nanowire batteries that will never die. The gold nanowires are a thousand times thinner than a human hair and sit in a gel of electrolyte to keep them from breaking down during recharging. They have been tested recharging over 200,000 times over three months and showed no sign of degradation.

Solid-State Batteries

Traditionally, solid-state batteries offer stability but at the cost of electrolyte transmissions. However, scientists at Toyota are testing a solid-state battery that uses sulfide superionic conductors for a better battery that can operate at super capacitor levels to charge in just seven minutes. Plus, being solid-state makes it safer than current battery options.

Solid Power Inc. is producing solid-state batteries for EVs using sulfide-based all-solid-state cells. Meanwhile, QuantumScape is developing solid-state batteries for Volkswagen. The hope is that these game changing batteries will be used in electric vehicles by 2026.

Zinc-Air Batteries

Researchers at Sydney University have found a way to make zinc-air batteries for much less than the costs of current methods. Zinc-air batteries are superior to lithium-ion batteries as they cannot catch on fire. The problem has been that Zinc-air batteries are made from very expensive components, but the University has found a way to use much cheaper alternatives. So, cheaper and safer batteries may soon be on the way.

Twenty Times Faster EV Charging

Ryden dual carbon technology allows batteries to last longer and charge faster than lithium but can be made using the same factories where lithium batteries are produced. Power Japan Plus says the batteries are more sustainable, last longer, are environmentally friendly and can charge 20 times faster than conventional batteries.

New EV Batteries and Increased Range

A company called Graphenano is developing a Graphene battery that it says will offer an estimated range of 500 miles and can be recharged in just a few minutes. The company says its batteries will charge and deplete 33 times faster than lithium-ion batteries.

An experimental car recently drove 1,100 miles on a single battery charge. This was possible thanks to aluminum-air battery technology that uses oxygen from the air to fill its cathode. making it much lighter than liquid-filled lithium ion batteries. to give the electric car greater range.

Better and Cheaper EV Batteries: The New Gold Rush

According to numerous statistics, electric vehicle sales will jump in America in the next five years, climbing from 3 percent of car sales today to about 10 percent in 2025 and almost 30 percent by 2030. Demand for better and cheaper EV batteries is creating a new gold rush as university research teams, start-up companies and automakers delve into exciting new technologies and hurry to meet demand.

The goal is to develop improved EV batteries that charge faster and last longer while switching to less expensive and more environmentally friendly materials. With our fingers on the pulse of all things in the zero-emission vehicle universe, check in with GreenCars often for information on the latest technologies that are driving the EV transportation revolution.

Where do electric vehicle batteries come from?

Almost 150 million electric vehicles (EVs) are set to be on the road by 2030 according to a International Energy Agency (IEA) report. The IEA highlights that global EV stock could even soar to 250 million should countries embrace stronger decarbonization policies as the world moves towards net-zero goals. However, while we often hear about the need for more EVs the energy storage systems that are critical to their deployment are not mentioned – but have you ever wondered where electric car batteries come from?

About Lithium-Ion Batteries

Electric cars use lithium-ion batteries as they are high-capacity and can recharge fully with minimal energy loss. The main components of these rechargeable batteries which are carbon, a metal oxide, and lithium. Within these batteries are five key technical elements, the anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and lithium ions. A typical EV battery (NMC532) contains roughly 8 kilos (17 lbs) of lithium carbonate, 35 kilos (77 lbs) of nickel, 20 kilos (44 lbs) of manganese and 14 kilos (30 lbs) of cobalt. There are a wide range of lithium batteries on the market that combine different metals and lithium, such as manganese or iron, but at their core, these are all lithium batteries.

As the key component of EV batteries, lithium demand has skyrocketed, while the market for lithium-ion battery packs and its components has grown considerably. EV batteries have entered into production relatively recently and the infrastructure needed to meet current demand is being built rapidly as countries seek to secure their own supply chains. In certain cases, EV batteries and their components have become core policy issues, exemplified by the U.S. Geological Survey’s designation of lithium as a critical material, and the Department of Energy’s National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries. This has made lithium and other battery minerals a commodity with national security implications.

Sustainability Issues

One of the core issues concerning the materials of EV batteries is sustainability. Cobalt, nickel and lithium are all extracted using environmentally-damaging methods. In addition to this, they have all been linked in one way or another to other socio-economic issues. As a result of this, considerable investments have been made to find opportunities to either improve the environmental impact of mining these metals, or creating new extraction methods capable of disrupting the industry.

Researchers are successfully finding ways of removing nickel and cobalt from battery compositions, with some believing the “cobalt problem is essentially solved,” as Davide Castelvecchi explains in Nature. As far as lithium is concerned, the technology sector has found new ways of extracting lithium in a more sustainable manner – like EnergyX’s LiTAS™ system, which uses Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) to collect larger lithium yield at a faster rate without using as much water or chemicals, and at a fraction of the cost. EnergyX’s technology was tested by a third-party in live extraction conditions in Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni in 2022, and achieved some of the best in-class results in terms of sustainability and efficiency.

From this perspective, there are some solutions readily available within the battery industry. Mining Technology’s Zachary Skidmore highlights the benefits of innovations like those pioneered by EnergyX, “It is expected that reserves from new extraction methods will be central to making up the shortfall of lithium needed to facilitate the increased demand. Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) is expected to boost existing capacities via increased recoveries and lower operating costs, while also improving the sustainability aspects.” With new technologies set to deliver

Source of EV Batteries

China currently dominates the global EV and EV supply-chain market, but global governments are vying to secure their own supply chains. When it comes to the components that make up these batteries, they can be traced back to several specific countries. Half of the world’s cobalt originates from the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Indonesia, Australia, and Brazil make up the lion’s share of global nickel reserves, and South America’s ‘Lithium Triangle’ consisting of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina hold 75% of the world’s lithium. Rising demand for lithium has also led to further explorations – this has uncovered new deposits in Mexico, Iran, Afghanistan and India, but the infrastructure to mine and process the metal is nonexistent.

A 2023 report by Bloomberg highlighted that through its long-term investing in established battery markets and influence in emerging markets in South America and Africa, China could control a third of the world’s lithium by 2025. Beijing’s shadow has loomed ominously over major economies shifting to battery-heavy technology, and its dominance on markets is leading countries like France to create fully-integrated supply chains from mine to battery that could curb reliance on China’s services. EnergyX has actively sought to implement a similar integrated supply chain in the United States, where lithium production is still too low to meet domestic demands, and Washington has provided little indication of where it intends to secure its supply.

While sourcing lithium for batteries is a primary issue, solutions for their end of life are actively being developed. At the moment, recycling makes up a negligible portion of EV batteries, but the industry is confident that once the market matures, recycled materials will have an important impact on the manufacturing process. Castelvecchi continues, “Battery and carmakers are already spending billions of dollars on reducing the costs of manufacturing and recycling electric-vehicle (EV) batteries. National research funders have also founded centres to study better ways to make and recycle batteries, […] a key goal is to develop processes to recover valuable metals cheaply enough to compete with freshly mined ones.

EV Batteries Are a Global Product

The future is electric, and global governments are working towards decarbonizing at very fast rates by reducing the emissions created by the transport and energy sectors. The rising popularity of electric cars has highlighted the importance of cooperation across governments and industries, as well as the need to ensure that sustainable development is taken into account at every step in the supply chain. As it currently stands, the lithium sector as well as the market for electric vehicles is controlled by China as it continues to enforce new low-carbon policies domestically and invests heavily in sourcing raw materials overseas. If other countries are serious about funding a green transition and its associated infrastructure, policies and investments must follow.

by Teague Egan, Chief Executive Officer March 10, 2023

Teague Egan is the Founder and CEO of EnergyX. He is responsible for all aspects of building the company into the world leader in renewable energy technologies. His FOCUS is on all aspects of commercializing the LiTAS™ tech for lithium extraction and solid state battery electrolytes. He believes 100 hour work weeks, and little sleep is the recipe to success.

Who Makes Electric Car Batteries? EV Battery Market and Materials

David Kuchta, Ph.D. has 10 years of experience in gardening and has read widely in environmental history and the energy transition. An environmental activist since the 1970s, he is also a historian, author, gardener, and educator.

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Electric vehicle (EV) batteries have come a long way since the first electric vehicles were invented in the 1830s. Modern electric vehicles run on lithium-ion batteries, which were introduced in 1991.

As the EV battery and energy storage markets grow, manufacturers continue to experiment with chemistries, configurations, and production processes—with the common goal of creating more efficient batteries that last longer, cost less, and have a lower environmental impact. What goes into an EV battery is already changing and is likely to continue to change over the next decades.

What Is in an EV Battery?

An EV battery is a pack of individual battery cells, each about the size of a AA battery. Those cells are clustered into protective frames called modules, each with its own circuitry, and those modules are clustered together into a pack.

The entire pack is managed by a Battery Management System and a cooling system that regulates the heat and voltage, protects the battery from draining too much or too quickly, and manages the charging and discharging of energy.

EV batteries work by moving lithium ions (charged atoms) through a solution called an electrolyte, which carries positively charge ions between separate electrodes called anodes and cathodes. This process creates an electric current that is sent to the EV’s motor.

What the electrodes, separators, and electrolytes are made of can vary. Lithium is the indispensable element, of course, but among the most frequently used other components are aluminum, carbon, cobalt, iron, manganese, nickel, oxygen, phosphorus, and silicon. New combinations and chemistries emerge all the time, using other elements like sodium or tin and sulfur. (These are not the so-called rare earth minerals that are used in other parts of EVs as well as in gas-powered cars.)

Supply Chain Concerns

EVs compete with electronics and energy storage devices—both of them growing industries—for lithium-ion batteries.

The International Energy Agency projects that 200 million EVs could be on the roads by 2030. Demand for minerals for supplying batteries for EVs and energy storage is expected to grow by five- to ten-fold by 2030 and ten- to thirty-fold by 2040.

According to the Electric Vehicle Battery Supply Chain Analysis from Automotive Manufacturing Solutions (AMS), there is concern over whether supply will match the demand across the battery supply chain. Yet AMS predicts that “global capacity for lithium-ion batteries will increase from 475 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2020 to more than 2,850 GWh by 2030,” with 80 new gigafactories across the globe to produce lithium-ion cells and batteries.

None of the key elements in EV batteries are rare. The question is whether or not the production of them can keep pace with the increasing demand for electric vehicles.

Cobalt and Replacements

Cobalt is the most controversial of the minerals used in EV batteries, since its main source, the Democratic Republic of Congo, has a history of human rights abuses. While manufacturers have reduced the percentage of cobalt from 60% in the first generation of lithium-ion batteries to 15-20% cobalt today, reducing that percentage to zero is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries released in June 2021.

Replacing cobalt with more nickel poses its own problems, however, depending on how environmentally-friendly (or unfriendly) the mining is. Cobalt- and nickel-free electric vehicles do exist already and have proved commercially successful. Lithium mining has also come under criticism from environmentalists and indigenous people for its harmful effects.

EV Battery Manufacturing

Three countries—China, Argentina, and Bolivia—account for 58% of the world’s lithium reserves, though Australia puts about half of the world’s lithium into production. Abundant lithium supplies (86 million tons) exist around the world, including in the United States.

electric, vehicle, battery, myths, facts, debate

China is the world’s leader in refining those raw materials for batteries, and more than two-thirds of battery manufacturing is controlled by three companies—CATL, LG, and Panasonic—based in China, South Korea, and Japan, respectively. Three other companies bring that market share up to 87%.

In the United States, however, 70% of battery cells and 87% of battery packs are produced domestically rather than imported—in large part due to the industry dominance of Tesla, known for its vertical integration. Its Panasonic batteries are produced in Nevada.

What Is Vertical Integration?

Vertical integration involves keeping the manufacturing processes in-house, rather than outsourcing them to independent suppliers, as most auto companies do today.

Traditional car manufacturers have historically relied on outsourced suppliers, so as they increase their own production of EVs, concerns about supply chains have grown with them. European and American EV manufacturers are taking steps to bring battery manufacturing home.

Battery Recycling

Battery recycling is likely to play a key role in meeting such a high demand for minerals. 95% of the minerals in EV batteries can be recycled, and numerous startup companies are already competing to garner market share. By 2021, over 100 companies worldwide were recycling EV batteries or planned to do so soon.

The problem is that EV batteries are expected to last a long time, and the demand for batteries may outpace the supply of recycled ones. Used EV batteries can be deployed as-is for stationary energy storage, thus reducing their availability for recycling.

The challenge is for battery recycling companies to reach economies of scale to make recycling worth their efforts. As in other industries, recycling efforts can be little more than industry greenwashing.

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  • Harrison, Daniel. Electric Vehicle Battery Supply Chain Analysis. Automotive Manufacturing Solutions, 2021.
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: ‘This Is What We Die For’: Human Rights Abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Power the Global Trade in Cobalt. Amnesty International, 2016.
  • Vehicle Technologies Office’s Plan to Reduce, Recycle, and Recover Critical Materials in Lithium-Ion Batteries. U.S. Department of Energy, 2019.
  • Top 25 Nations for Mining in the EV Battery Supply Chain. VC Elements.
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