It might not be the first thing you think of, but recycling electric car batteries is officially a major business.
Recycling electric car batteries from road cars and Formula E race cars
The guys at Engineering Explained talk about recycling and repurposing electric car batteries used in both road cars and race cars in the Formula E series.
In most cases, the manufacturer of the car is responsible for the battery when they replace it. Even if you wanted to do something with an old EV battery they’re massive, weighing hundreds of pounds, which makes them very difficult to move around without the right tools. Plus, removing the battery is a big job.
Battery recycling is easy and potentially cheaper than making a new battery
The simplest and cheapest solution for old EV batteries is to be reused. There are lots of parts in a used battery that are repurposed into other battery packs. Nissan has developed a system for using old car batteries hooked up to a few solar panels to power street signals and signs. Used car batteries can even be used to power your home.
Reliability is a key benefit of batteries. There have only been two on track battery failures since the beginning of the Formula E racing series. Not a single battery has failed during a race over the last two seasons.
Even a completely spent battery is recycled
When asked this question, Jeff Wandel of Nissan said “Generally, yes. The pack components consist of steel, copper, aluminum, and some plastic. The cells are recycled via different methods to recover the cobalt, nickel, manganese, and lithium mixtures. The recovered materials are refined to necessary purities for reuse in general industry and potentially also for manufacturing new battery cells.”.
The cost of recycling an old battery is still a little higher than the cost of manufacturing a new battery. As more electric cars enter the market an economy of scale will reduce the cost of recycling old batteries.
And there you go, now you’ll sound like Elon Musk at your next dinner party!
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