Recycling Batteries

Electric-drive vehicles are relatively new to the U.S. auto market, so only a small number of them have approached the end of their useful lives. As a result, few post-consumer batteries from electric-drive vehicles are available, thus limiting the extent of battery-recycling infrastructure. As electric-drive vehicles become increasingly common, the battery-recycling market may expand.

Widespread battery recycling would keep hazardous materials from entering the waste stream, both at the end of a battery's useful life and during its production. Work is now under way to develop battery-recycling processes that minimize the life-cycle impacts of using lithium-ion and other kinds of batteries in vehicles. But not all recycling processes are the same:

Smelting:

Direct recovery:

Intermediate processes:

Separating the different kinds of battery materials is often a stumbling block in recovering high-value materials. Therefore, battery design that considers disassembly and recycling is important in order for electric-drive vehicles to succeed from a sustainability standpoint. Standardizing batteries, materials, and cell design would also make recycling easier and more cost-effective.


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