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Lithium Car Battery Recycling

With some of the world’s most prominent car manufacturers announcing plans to phase out petrol and diesel-powered vehicles entirely within the next decade and a half, electric vehicles (EVs) are no longer a dream of the future.

General Motors in the US have stated their intentions to sell only EVs by 2035, while the global growth in sales of EVs and President Biden’s pledge to reach 50% electrification by 2030 prove that EV adoption is finally reaching the mainstream.

This rapid growth, and the move away from fossil fuel reliance, is generally seen as a positive, however, this is not the end of the story, and the social and environmental concerns around how to dispose of lithium batteries that EVs are usually powered by are now coming to light.

The lithium car battery issue is twofold. First, there is clear concern around the level of virgin raw material mining needed for their manufacture. This reliance on metals and minerals as the foundation of this technology presents significant environmental and social issues. However, there are now increased efforts to reduce this through the development of new technologies.

The other problem is, of course, how to dispose of lithium car batteries once they have reached the end of their useful lives—an issue compounded by the types of materials used during manufacture. Today, you can recycle lithium car batteries, and this is the best way to minimize the mining of new raw materials, however, they are not as easily recycled as more conventional lead-acid batteries usually found in cars.

This means that regulators, manufacturers, and other industry players are now attempting to find the best ways to maximize the efficiency of lithium car battery recycling. However, there are numerous barriers to effectively recycling lithium car batteries, some of which we explore here.

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