Overview of Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Method and Its Promising Advantages
Lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles have recently gained immense popularity for various reasons, such as high-temperature performance, better battery durability, lower self-discharge, and many more.
However, the life of lithium-ion batteries is much less, i.e., approximately only 10–20 years. Due to this, electric vehicle owners have started to wonder if lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles should be recycled.
This article offers valuable insight into lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and a deep understanding of the recycling stages for lithium batteries.
Lithium-Ion Batteries: A Brief Introduction
Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most widely used batteries in electric vehicles worldwide. These batteries convert chemical energy into electrical energy to let electric vehicles operate smoothly.
Each lithium battery contains two types of electrodes: positive (cathode) and negative (anode).
Moreover, the demand for lithium-ion batteries has grown massively in the recent few years across different industries such as electric vehicles, telecommunications, and mobile phones.
The promising benefits that lithium batteries offer over other available batteries are the primary reason for such increasing demand.
Following are the advantages of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles:
- Increased energy density helps power electrical equipment for a longer duration
- Ability to tolerate many rejuvenation cycles and different temperature ranges
- Increased voltage per cell ratio
- Increased resistance to discharge
- Lower environmental impact than lead-acid batteries
According to BIS Research, the lithium-ion battery metals market is expected to grow from $14,539.70 million in 2021 to $286,085.77 million by 2031. The market is supposed to grow with a CAGR of 34.00% during the forecasted period 2022–2031.
Different Stages of Lithium-Ion Batteries Recycling
Lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles can be categorized into pre-treatment and secondary treatment.
Residual charges are present during the recycling process of lithium-ion batteries, and the chances of these charges getting encountered by moistures are high. Therefore, cleaning the residual charges before the recycling process is a must.
Currently, resistance and immersion are the two treatment methods used to clean residual charges.
Immersion methods are mainly performed for releasing the charges using sodium chloride solution. Also, the lithium battery is placed inside alkaline water to reduce the formation of toxic gasses.
After the aforementioned steps, the batteries are stored physically depending on their casing and materials used in them.
- Secondary Treatment
The secondary treatments primarily separate the cathode and anode active materials from the battery’s substrate. This treatment involved different methods such as heat treatment, organic solvent dissolution, and electrolysis methods.
Among these methods, heat treatment is relatively simple and commonly used. In heat treatment, lithium-ion batteries are placed at a certain temperature to melt the aluminum foil.
Advantages of Recycling Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are not just used in electric vehicles but can also be found in multiple electronic devices such as smart wearables, smartphones, and various smart home devices.
However, the lithium batteries used in devices such as smartphones other than electric vehicles are usually disposed of without recycling.
Since lithium batteries in smart gadgets contain dangerous materials; therefore, disposing of them is a mandatory step to reduce severe environmental effects.
As per the environmental protection agency (EPA), the following are some advantages of recycling lithium-ion batteries powering electric vehicles.
v Recycling batteries reduces the waste despatched to landfills.
v Lithium-ion batteries power the electric vehicles, including heavy metals that react with rainwater to form leachate that can pollute the groundwater supply. Recycling lithium-ion batteries helps reduce harmful metals from penetrating and contaminating the water.
v Recycling allows automakers to lower the production costs of electric vehicles since the battery materials are reusable and can be recycled in case of defects such as low backup.
Due to such promising advantages of recycling, the lithium-ion battery metals market is witnessing high demand from consumer electronics to automotive sectors.
Currently, there are several developments and research taking place to determine the easiest and cheapest way of recycling lithium-ion batteries.
The conventional battery packs were fixed and difficult to remove or change. However, recyclable lithium-ion batteries have been proven substitutes for conventional batteries and have longer durability.
A U.S.-based company, Aceleron, is constantly working toward developing hard cells from the removable batteries. It will allow electric vehicle owners to upgrade, recycle or replace the cells inside the vehicle system by simply adjusting some bolts and nuts.
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