There is an increasing demand for both hybrid and purely electric vehicles throughout the globe. Indeed world leaders are beginning to see how the gradual – if not immediate – elimination of traditional internal combustion or fossil fuel-reliant vehicles. Such removal is seen as a necessary action if we are to slow climate change in its tracks by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
However, this push for electric cars has hit an unexpected bump in the road: the fact remains that there is a limited amount of raw materials for the production of the lithium-ion batteries used to power electric engines. It’s a situation that has been compounded further by labor issues as well as concerns regarding the sustainability of manufacturing processes used in the making of these batteries.
Fortunately, both researchers and investors believe that this is all about to change. Several countries and private corporations are set to make considerable investments into facilities geared towards recycling lithium-ion batteries.
A need for industrial incentives
According to John Deutch, a researcher and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), there are a number of potential opportunities in the field of lithium-ion battery recycling that have stemmed from a need to rethink production costs as well as the rising demand for electric vehicles.
Deutch opines that governments need to create policies that will give incentives to companies that choose to recycle their batteries or make it a point to require the placement of recycling processes at manufacturing facilities. As he puts it, a “second-use” policy will give battery designers or developers an incentive to create second-life alternatives when it comes to producing batteries.
A push towards battery recycling is also expected to significantly decrease the world’s dependence on China, currently the leading source of raw lithium and the nation presently controlling the bulk of raw materials.
Small but noteworthy steps
As of February of this year, Canadian lithium-ion battery recycling firm Li-Cycle declared that it was going to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) through a $1.67 billion SPAC transaction. The company can recover over 90% of salvageable materials from each lithium-ion battery, mostly valuable elements like lithium itself, along with cobalt, copper, and nickel.
Across the border, the US Department of Energy unveiled its plan for large-scale lithium-ion battery recycling back in June. Titled the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries, the plan outlines several key goals, including establishing a more secure pipeline for raw materials, providing recycling facilities at domestic manufacturing companies, and the capacity to recycle batteries at scale.