Electric vehicles are becoming more popular every year, but what happens to their batteries when they reach the end of their life? You might think they are destined for landfill, but recycling is a better way to deal with them.
Recycling electric vehicle batteries is not only good for the environment but also for your wallet. According to a recent report by Reuters, the US government is offering incentives for recycling electric vehicle batteries, which could turn them into a valuable commodity.
Why recycle electric vehicle batteries?
Electric vehicle batteries are made of lithium-ion cells containing precious metals such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese. These metals are in high demand for various industries, such as electronics, aerospace, and renewable energy.
However, these metals are also scarce and expensive to mine. According to the US Geological Survey, the global production of cobalt in 2020 was 140,000 metric tons, while the demand was 170,000 metric tons. The price of cobalt was about $52,000 per metric ton in July 2021.
Recycling electric vehicle batteries can help reduce the dependence on mining and lower the cost of battery production. It can also prevent the environmental and social impacts of mining, such as pollution, deforestation, and human rights violations.
According to a study by the International Energy Agency (IEA), recycling electric vehicle batteries could reduce the demand for cobalt by 55%, nickel by 25%, and lithium by 10% by 2040.
How to recycle electric vehicle batteries?
Recycling electric vehicle batteries is not a simple process. It involves several steps, such as:
- Collection: The batteries must be collected from electric vehicle owners or dealerships when replaced or retired.
- Transportation: The batteries must be transported safely and securely to recycling facilities, following strict regulations and standards.
- Sorting: The batteries must be sorted by type, size, and condition.
- Disassembly: The batteries must be disassembled into modules and cells, removing hazardous materials and components.
- Processing: The cells need to be processed using various methods, such as pyrometallurgy (high-temperature smelting), hydrometallurgy (chemical leaching), or direct recycling (mechanical separation).
- Recovery: The metals must be recovered from the processed materials using techniques such as electrolysis or precipitation.
- Refining: The metals must be refined to meet the specifications for battery production or other applications.
- Reuse: The metals must be reused in new battery cells or other products.
What are the incentives for recycling electric vehicle batteries?
Recycling electric vehicle batteries is beneficial not only for the environment and the economy but also for consumers. The US government is offering incentives for recycling electric vehicle batteries, which could make them more attractive and profitable.
According to Reuters, the US Department of Energy (DOE) plans to launch a $200 million program in 2023 that will pay electric vehicle owners or dealerships $1000 per battery pack for recycling. The program aims to collect 50,000 battery packs per year, which could generate about 8,000 metric tons of cobalt.
The DOE also works with automakers and battery manufacturers to develop standards and best practices for recycling electric vehicle batteries. The goal is to create a circular economy for battery materials, which can be reused multiple times without losing quality or performance.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also considering adding electric vehicle batteries to its Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which regulates hazardous waste management. This could impose stricter rules on how electric vehicle batteries are handled and disposed of, encouraging more recycling.
How to make money from your old electric vehicle batteries?
If you own an electric vehicle or plan to buy one in the future, you might want to consider recycling your old battery pack when it reaches its end of life. Not only will you help save the planet, but you will also earn some cash.
Here are some tips on how to make money from your old electric vehicle batteries:
- Check your battery warranty: Most electric vehicle manufacturers offer a battery pack warranty, typically covering 8 years or 100,000 miles. If your battery pack is still under warranty, you might be able to get a replacement or a refund from the manufacturer.
- Contact your local recycling facility: If your battery pack is not under warranty, you might be able to sell it to a local recycling facility that specializes in electric vehicle batteries. You can find a list of certified recyclers on the DOE website or the Responsible Battery Coalition website. You might need to provide some information about your battery pack, such as its type, size, condition, and mileage.
- Wait for the DOE program: If you are not in a hurry, you should wait for the DOE program that will launch in 2023. You could get $1000 per battery pack for recycling, which is more than what most recyclers offer. However, you will need to register for the program and follow its guidelines and requirements.
- Donate your battery pack: If you feel generous, donate your battery pack to a nonprofit organization supporting electric vehicle adoption or environmental causes. You might not get any money, but you will get a tax deduction and good karma.
Recycling your old electric vehicle batteries is a smart and responsible way to deal with them. You will help reduce the environmental impact of electric vehicles and make some money from them. So, don’t let your old electric vehicle batteries go to waste. Recycle them and turn them into gold.