Electromobility: New recycling processes need to be developed

In the future, batteries will play an increasingly important role. In addition to the classic use in smartphones, tablets and laptops, the demand in the automotive industry is also continuously increasing. Because electric mobility is picking up speed, between 2030 and 2040 electric vehicles are even supposed to replace the combustion engine in some countries. But what are we going to do with all the energy storage devices after they have reached the end of their lifespan?

Numerous researchers are now dealing with this question. Because up to 2030 in Europe up to 12 Millions of electric vehicles are on the move By then, the European Commission has set better recycling as a goal. A new study has now taken a closer look at the energy and water consumption that common methods result in today. Because recycling is only worthwhile if the raw material and energy requirements are lower than when producing again.

Batteries must be recyclable (Image: Tyler Lastovich)

Methods used today often involve the melting of materials. However, large parts of certain raw materials (e.g. lithium) can no longer be used. Other approaches try to recover the various metals by dissolving them, but this uses chemicals and large amounts of energy. In addition, a lot of wastewater is produced.

Regardless of the method, the result is still average. Up to 62 Percentage of raw materials can be recovered through today’s recycling processes. There is still room for improvement here, but we are already on the way in the right direction. The EU wants to Recycle percent of the battery waste, then should 95 percent of cobalt, nickel and copper, as well as 70 Percent of lithium can be reused.

Electric vehicles must be sustainable over their entire life cycle

The team also gives advice on how previous processes can be optimized. The researchers advise against the use of sodium hydroxide, as this increases the environmental impact significantly. Furthermore, one tries to develop methods that can be scaled quickly and efficiently.

Own opinion:

We are headed for an electric future. This is no longer a secret and requires us to have a deeper understanding of emissions over the entire product life cycle. Although an electric vehicle is emission-free, if raw materials can hardly or not at all be recycled, then the environmental balance is quickly ruined. And that would be the wrong way again.

Via Eurek Alert

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