A new innovation means the recycling rate for electric vehicle (EV) batteries can be increased to more than 80%.
Clean energy company Fortum says it has a solution for what is potentially the biggest sustainability issue associated with EVs – the environmental impact of the metals, plastics and chemicals used to store electricity.
If the market for low carbon cars grows as expected in the near future, then demand for materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese will soar – this could mean more carbon intensive mining needs to take place.
However, Fortum says this may not be needed, as it is now using a technology that can return scarce metals back into circulation and through recycling, can reduce associated carbon dioxide emissions from battery production by up to 90%.
The process, developed by Finnish company Crisolteq, sees plastics, aluminium and copper separated and directed to their own recycling processes before the remaining mixture of lithium, manganese, cobalt and nickel is separated using chemical precipitation methods.
This allows these minerals to be recovered and delivered to battery manufacturers to be reused in producing new batteries.
Crisolteq and Fortum have a hydro-metallurgical recycling facility in Harjavalta, Finland, where battery materials can be treated on an industrial scale.
Kalle Saarimaa, Vice President of Fortum Recycling and Waste, said: “Limited availability and the environmental impacts of mining mean that recycling these scarce elements back to battery manufacturing is key to reducing the environmental impacts of battery use throughout the lifecycle.
“If we don’t get the materials back into circulation, we will run out of materials.”
Technologies for energy users that can help them reduce costs and emissions will be among those on display at The Energy Solutions Show (TESS) on June 5th at Millennium Point, Birmingham.
If you are interested in showcasing your technology, feel free to get in touch here.