Lithium batteries and how to recycle them: the new emergency of the future?

Electric cars are breaking into the auto market. Many governments have imposed the transition from internal combustion cars to electric ones by 2040, but there is no shortage of uncertainties and future problems on the subject. The most important is how to recycle and reuse the most important component of electric cars: lithium batteries. The recovery of these batteries could represent a real emergency if not managed properly.

Electric cars invade the automotive market bringing a new emergency
Electric cars invade the automotive market bringing a new emergency

The battery in the electric car is the element that stores energy and then releases it in the form of direct current. The electricity in turn is transferred to the electric motor; this finally allows the car to move thanks to the conversion of electrical energy into mechanics. The battery is essential and necessary as it allows the car to have autonomy capacity. The most widespread and common are lithium ones. These have several advantages, including being light, compact and quickly rechargeable. Lithium batteries have an average life of about eight years, and it is their deterioration that worries industry experts .

Lithium batteries: how to reuse them?

All the qualities mentioned above collide with an important problem that will break out in the near future: how to dispose of the batteries? To date, the lithium battery recycling sector is unprepared and has not yet found an effective and lasting solution. The sore point is the cost of reuse . The expenses for carrying out specific disposal operations are important and not all companies are ready to face the market challenge. To date, it is estimated that only 5% of lithium batteries have been recycled . What worries experts in the sector is above all the considerable environmental impact: lithium batteries dissolve toxic gases in the air and some of the elements of which they are made pollute the water.

Lithium electric battery: fundamental element of electric cars
Lithium electric battery: fundamental element of electric cars

One possible solution comes from EU regulations. In fact, the European Union leaders envisaged a link between car manufacturers and lithium battery manufacturers : they will have to deal with the costs of collection, treatment and reuse. Another possibility, still being tested, is the use of cold chemical processes capable of separating the materials and harmful substances from the accumulators.

The battery market is booming

Thanks to the qualities possessed by lithium batteries, their production is experiencing an exponential growth. Today it is Japan together with South Korea that has the greatest influence on the market . The production of batteries is closely linked to the desire to impose itself on the electric car market. We recall that this sector represents the future of mobility. Investments in this sector are increasing and it is constantly developing. Even Europe and Italy itself must therefore not stand by and watch. The objective to be achieved is to increase revenues while maintaining a zero impact , not only in terms of environmental pollution but above all to respect ethical and moral principles.

There are two different strategies in the battery and electric car manufacturing market. There are those like Tesla who have decided to self-produce accumulators in their research laboratories, and those like Volvo Cars who have chosen to collaborate with the giants of the sector. Agreements have already been made: the most important joint ventures are between Porshe and Customcells and between Volvo Cars and NorthVolt. In both cases the goal is to reduce costs by increasing performance and autonomy and battery capacity. Only in this way can the new form of mobility become accessible to all.

The article Lithium batteries and how to recycle them: the new emergency of the future? comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .