Lithium-ion batteries that make up the power house of modern-day EV cars are facing challenges
over the issue of recycling. Only a few companies have the technology that offers the complete
recycling journey of the Li-ion batteries as the process needs to be undertaken on a controlled
environment, but a recent breakthrough in the technology might change this in the near future.
Lithium is the villain in the process of completely recycling as it is available in very limited
quantities and therefore ignored most of the time. “Black mass” which can be said as a soup of
all the active materials in a battery used for recycling purposes have ample amounts of metals
such as cobalt and nickel that can be economically extracted, but this is not the case with lithium.
The preferred extraction technique for Lithium extraction is “Hydrometallurgy” in which the
desired metals are separated from the slurry of EV battery chemicals. On an average recycling
process, today can recover approximately 25% to 96% of the total materials present in the
Lithium-ion battery and currently the efforts are to push it to 99%.
If recycling is a difficult task, then there are innovative ways to repurpose the EV batteries till
they have hit the bottom side of their life. Even after the Lithium-ion-powered EV batteries are
not suitable for driving purposes, they still have 80% of their charge-discharge capacity intact.
Some of these repurpose applications are:
1. Power stabilizers in electric grids
Since EV batteries can store and discharge electricity at a steady rate, the worn out batteries are
used to prop up the electric grids near the sources that exhibit constant power fluctuations, like
wind and solar power plants.
2. Home energy solution
There are still parts of the world that do not have a proper electric connection and EV batteries
can be a savior in such a situation. An average household with basic electric needs such as table
fans and a few bulbs can easily run on an EV battery for weeks before re-charging.
3. Powering up street lights and Elevators
Nissan, the famous car manufacturer from Japan is already lighting their home country streets
with EV batteries charged using solar energy during day time. Renault, another big name in the
car manufacturing industry has found ways to use EV batteries as back up for elevators.
Either through recycling or repurposing, EV batteries are expanding the future for a brighter and