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Battery recycling electric cars: What happens when life ends?

We analyze what happens to the batteries of an electric vehicle when they reach the end of their useful life. The batteries are reused at many levels to harness the energy storage capacity still preserved, although not useful for driving an electric car. Examples include Nissan Xstorage system or full recycling program with its Tesla batteries.

Opel Ampera-e - batteries

Batteries and mechanics of Opel Ampera-e, one of the new electric cars that have hit the market.

Today I was brushing my teeth with an electric toothbrush (of course!) With half and half batteries worn fatigues stopped. The solution was simple and after spending thirty seconds to go for a couple of AA / LR6 new I had in a drawer, I could finish my homework. 

Then I put the two batteries in the boat we have at home for this purpose, and periodically emptied in a specific container to recycle batteries, but I kept thinking about those many batteries that people throw away, no more, along with all other household waste. 

Perhaps because many people, unfortunately, still pulling away batteries and are not segregated for recycling, or they still continue to see car batteries lying around in the field, keeps coming up again and again this question: "What about the batteries of an electric vehicle to reach the end of its useful life?" This question is often imbued with a certain fear that end up abandoned in the field without being recycled.

The importance of proper recycling of used batteries in any household object.

My experience with my YouTube channel tells me that there is much "troll" and much "hater" crouch waiting for, when the time, jump with preguntita of yore in order to sow doubts, misinform and discredit electric vehicles. To these people I would like to ask if you are worried about what will happen to your car diesel / gasoline once you go scrapped, or even if at some point passed their minds what happens to their old mobile phones, computers, tablets, televisions, washing machines, refrigerators and a long list of appliances once they reach the end of their useful life. Probably do not think about it before buying, nor the least amount them. Just they buy what they please, regardless of their ecological footprint, they use everything seems to them, and then dispose of the object in question without thinking about reuse or recycle. That others take care. 

But if you talk about the benefits of an electric car, you jump with pollution of the batteries. Those are just plain hypocrites.

However, I have also seen relatives and friends asking me the question, and that no bad intentions but lack of knowledge and concern about an issue that is of crucial importance, since the forecasts sales of electric vehicles for decades to speak of between 100 and 600 million VE circulating in the world in 2040.

obsolete and discarded computers

obsolete and discarded equipment.

So, we return to the question: What about the batteries of an electric vehicle when they reach the end of their useful life? Well, the first thing that happens is reused.

Take a practical example: someone who needs to run 100 km every day and bought a Nissan Leaf in 2012, car came equipped with a battery of 24 kWh and could reach 150 km of real autonomy but with the use and the passage of time has lost capacity and today has only 90 km of autonomy. That car is no longer useful for driving 100 km daily needs its owner, so no longer use it and want to get rid of it.

What commands the scrapping? Probably not, because even if it has only 90 km of real autonomy may serve many other people also can buy used for a good price. Thus, the battery is reused with another owner. 

Forecasts park electric vehicles in 2040

Park forecast of electric vehicles by the year 2040.

But there will come a time when the car is so old that, even if the battery still works not let go very far, or that the car has other faults, or simply fall apart old. At that point, Does the battery is pulled? No, not.

Let's say that battery and only has an actual capacity of 10 kWh, less than half its original capacity and not allowed to circulate or 60 km. This makes the car owner gets no longer sell to anyone and therefore delivers it to scrap or deliver it to a dealership as part payment of another car. So this battery will finish in a landfill, polluting the environment? No, either. That battery reused once again. How?

Will there be batteries for both electric car?

Nissan Leaf 2012

First-generation Nissan Leaf.

Following the example we are working, the battery will recover Nissan Nissan Leaf and use it for your home battery systems Xstorage, which may serve to store your energy after having generated with solar panels, or simply as backup to save on your electricity bill building on existing hourly rates, charging your battery overnight when electricity is cheaper, and using it during the day instead of consuming the network in its most expensive hours. There are many more uses for these batteries, but I think these examples is clear that we have battery for long, and do not want and imagine what would be the life cycle of a battery of 100 kWh as Tesla.

Anyway, sooner or later there will come a time when or is no longer economically viable reuse the battery, or can no longer technically. And there, yes, plays rid of the battery. How? Recycling most of its components, of course. 

Tesla, for example, has a program of total recycling of batteries (details of which you can read in English here) but it is not the only brand that does. As mentioned above, Nissan has similar programs, as well as Renault and other manufacturers. But in this article I refer to Tesla system that recycles their batteries in Europe Umicore hand (in the United States uses a different partner) getting a system closed loop recycling.

Nissan Xstorage

Programs like Xstorage allow Nissan to give a second life to the batteries of electric vehicles.

East of re-manufacturing system with a product recovered from a non-use material, the same product as before. And thus, it is substantially reduced carbon footprint of the manufacture of new batteries lithium ion. Reading on the website of Tesla can find details about the process followed by Umicore, and discovered it can save at least 70 percent of CO2 emissions with the recovery and refining of precious metals that make up a battery, attractive process for Tesla from an environmental point of view and also provides a high profit margin. 

However, Tesla has a system of recycling of batteries not mean they can recycle all other VE, because the chemical composition of each manufacturer usually vary. Thus, given the absence of formal procedures and specific rules, and seen that there are many technological and economic feasibility with these processes barriers, it is clear that the final step, the recycling of batteries Li-ion electric cars , you need more attention to avoid problems in the future.

LG Chem open in 2018 the biggest battery factory in Europe

An electric car batteries

Batteries of an electric car.

The Ideally, the authorities encourage manufacturers to seek battery designs as uniform as possible towards their reuse and recycling in order to easily manage batteries that have reached the end of the cycle, approved recycling facilities. Recycle batteries Li-ion is perfectly possible, desirable and the authorities must make it mandatory before the massive influx of hundreds of millions of electric vehicles for the whole system of recycling batteries is set up and running when they arrive at the end of its useful life.