Electric vehicles are touted as being more environmentally friendly than their internal combustion engine alternatives. But does that extend to their batteries?
It is a question we hear often, and as electric vehicles (EVs) grow more popular this concern will grow. You want to know that your environmentally friendly vehicle really is helping the environment, all the way through to the end of life.
Let us help walk you through what happens at the end of an EV battery’s life.
How Long Do They Last?
You don’t have to worry about your new EV needing a new battery any time soon. They are built to last 10 years or more! Check out our blog post for more on this topic.
An EV battery is assumed to be at the end of its life when it has no more than 70 to 75 per cent of its original capacity. Again, it is expected to take at least 10 years before it gets to this point.
What Happens to Batteries at End of Life?
We have good news! EV batteries are recyclable!
Around 90-95 per cent of the components in an EV battery can be recycled.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can throw an old battery into your blue bin and dust your hands. No, there is a specific process that a battery goes through in order to break it down into its parts and properly recycle everything. Unfortunately, local authorities are not able to do this. Luckily, as demand grows, private companies are starting in the business of battery recycling.
In the United States, Ford has partnered with Redwood Materials, which was started by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel. In Canada we are seeing companies like Li-Cycle open, and all have the same goal in mind: finding efficient, safe, and effective recovery pathways for end-of-life hybrid and electric vehicle batteries.
What is the Process?
Currently there are three methods used to recycle lithium-ion batteries: Pyrometallurgy, also known as smelting; Hydrometallurgy; and Direct Recycling.
Pyrometallurgy, or smelting, is a common method to recycle lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries. However, this process is resource-intensive and recovers only between 40 and 50 per cent of the battery's materials.
Hydrometallurgy starts with "shredding" of the cells that allows recovery of metals in the battery. This process involves dissolving ions using acids in a solution. Through the precipitation process different metal salts are extracted from this solution. Shredding can recover up to 95 per cent of the lithium-ion battery components.
Direct Recycling is a process that recover valuable materials, such as lithium, without causing chemical changes. This can be done through a process called gravity separation. This process can also be done after shredding.
From there the resources are sold back to manufactures to make new batteries.
Everyday car manufacturers are working towards making battery packs better and more sustainable.
If you have any questions about your EV’s battery, come into Lacombe Quick Lane. Our technicians and advisors are experts on electric vehicles. Our team are trained and certified to help you with your EV, right here at home.