15 years from now, it is estimated there will be some 250,000 tones of spent EV battery packs, and they all have to go somewhere.
Thankfully, EV batteries aren’t nuclear waste; we can recycle them to extract raw materials and reuse those materials to make more batteries.
Like the plastic trays and milk bottles you throw in the bin, used EV batteries are recycled to separate the useful minerals from the chaff. This not only reduces our dependency on virgin materials but slashes carbon emissions in the supply chain.
The recycling process shreds the EV batteries, creating a black mass, which consists of high amounts of lithium, manganese, cobalt, and nickel metals. Those metals are refined further to create a fresh supply of rare and uncommon metals.
Battery recycling for electric vehicles includes both the main battery pack and the 12V battery, which can be lead-acid or lithium-ion.
The ultimate goal is to create a closed-loop manufacturing process. In November, Northvolt announced the world’s first 100% recycled EV battery.
UK EV battery recycling
In the UK, battery recycling facilities are relatively common, but facilities that recycle EV batteries are not. You see, EV batteries are enormous, and they have a different chemical composition to the batteries in your smartphone, requiring different recycling and refinement processes. The process is expensive and difficult.
Technology Minerals PLC, a British company, aims to change this as the UK’s first listed company to create a circular economy in the battery metals sector.
They aim to achieve this with proprietary recycling technology and a partnership agreement with a leading hazardous waste company, working closely with them to design and develop recycling facilities that can recycle EV batteries at scale.
The deal will see Recyclus Group, a 49% Technology Minerals owned company, partner with hazardous waste management and service delivery provider Slicker Recycling. The partnership will boost recycling output for lithium-ion batteries with a high level of refinement, preserving the quality of the extracted metals with great efficiency.
“There is a clear demand building as a result of this quantum shift to electrification,” says Alex Stanbury, CEO of Technology Minerals.
“We are focused on extracting raw materials required for lithium-ion batteries, whilst solving the ecological issue of spent Li-ion batteries, by recycling them for re-use by battery manufacturers.”
The demand for electrification is only going to increase, and we have to come to terms with the battery waste this will create.
The move by Technology Minerals is the first of its kind in the UK and a welcome step in the right direction for EV battery recycling.