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Here’s what needs to be done to fully recycle EV batteries

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Between 2000 and 2018, the number of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) produced multiplied by 80. 66% of them were used in electric vehicles (EVs). The planned development of electric mobility will increase the demand for batteries, with the International Energy Agency estimating that between 2019 and 2030 the demand for batteries will increase. will grow 17 fold.

This situation raises many questions regarding the materials used to manufacture these batteries: what resources are involved? What are the environmental impacts of its extraction? Can they be recycled?

When you look at the materials in the LIBs that are currently used in the vast majority of EVs, the first thing to know is that there are multiple types of battery technology. While they all contain lithium, the other components vary: batteries in phones or computers contain cobalt, while those for vehicles may contain cobalt with nickel or manganese, or none at all in the case of iron phosphate technologies.

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The exact chemical composition of these storage components is difficult to ascertain, as it is a trade secret. In addition, batteries are regularly upgraded to improve their performance so that their chemical composition evolves over time. In any case, the main materials involved in the production of LIBs are lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and graphite. These have all been identified as presentation material supply and environmental risks.

The demand for the supply of these materials is complex: on the one hand, the value of reserves is subject to geopolitical considerations and evolutions in extraction techniques; on the other hand, the need for materials is very sensitive to hypothetical predictions (number of EVs and battery size).

What are the environmental effects?

The issue of the environmental impact of battery production is perhaps even more important. Even if there are enough materials, the effects of their use should be seriously considered.

EV battery mining