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Battery Power: 5 Innovations for Cleaner and Eco-friendly Electric Vehicles | Recycling




The road to a low-carbon economy is on track, but the best way to get there is still controversial. However, among the many routes and roadmaps, there is one broad consensus. Clean technology will play an important role.

This is not as true as in transportation. Combustion engine alternatives are needed to reduce vehicle emissions.

Green hydrogen is developing rapidly, but much of the early progress is in the field of electric vehicles (EVs). Although new car purchases have been flat overall, recent monthly figures show that EV sales have increased by 50% year-on-year.

If the battery can be repaired, the life of the battery can be extended by 10 years. Carlton Cummins, co-founder of Aceleron

Still, clean is a relative term. EVs don’t emit exhaust fumes, but the raw materials that go into EVs have as much carbon embedded in them as they burn. As recent Guardian research shows, the human rights and environmental costs of the Green Transport Revolution have not yet been fully considered in the competition for electric vehicles.

Batteries used by EVs are a big part of this problem and can push the weight of a car to nearly 3,000 kg. They contain rare earth metals, mostly sourced from the poorest and most ecologically sensitive locations on the planet.

Still, eco-innovation is underway. Here are five early steps to improve green certification at different stages of EV battery life.

Mining: Conservation of aquifers

Obtaining raw metals for batteries is associated with environmental and human rights impacts such as child labor (cobalt) and river pollution (copper).

An Eramet facility in Salta, Argentina, where a French metal company is working on a process to filter the water used for lithium extraction back into the original water.Photo: Handout

Lithium, a rare earth metal that EV batteries rely heavily on, is extracted from land sediments and underground aquifers. In the latter case, a large amount of salty groundwater is pumped to the surface and evaporates in a huge lake-sized pool. French metal company Eramet is experimenting with alternatives based on nanofiltration. It filters water through natural mineral granules and returns it to the aquifer. The company has invested 200m (145m) in the project, including the construction of a practical prototype in Salta, Argentina. Philip Ganderman, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Eramet, said yields of 90%, nearly double the industry average, and ultimately less unused lithium in the trash. The company recently announced the start of construction of a new lithium plant in Argentina. They claim that this meets 15% of Europe’s lithium demand.

Design: Modularization

Electronic devices have the problem of obsolescence shared by EVs. The transition to electricity is projected to generate 12m tonnes of battery waste from now to 2030. Move Aceleron forward. British startups want to do what the Dutch company Fairphone did for smartphones for battery packs. In other words, it is modular. The main components of a battery, such as cathodes, anodes, separators, cooling systems, fuses, and assembly hardware, all have different lifespans. Most batteries are glued or welded, so accessing broken components can be a headache. Acelerons alternatives reduce the need to glue components using compression and make it easier to disassemble the battery pack for repair, service, or diversion. If we can make the battery repairable, we can extend the life of the battery by 10 years, says co-founder Carlton Cummins. Based in Midlands, the company has contracts to use battery systems in trucks and all-terrain vehicles.

The Aceleron battery is designed to be easily disassembled so that components can be sent for repair, service, or diversion.Photo: 44799 / HandoutReuse: Energy storage

At some point, the performance of the battery will deteriorate. Storage capacity can disallow 250km round trips, but that doesn’t make them useless. Newcastle-based company Connected Energy takes out old EV batteries and combines them into a fixed power storage unit. The battery is used much like it comes out of the vehicle, said Matthew Ramsden, CEO of the company. Each battery in the unit is connected to a computer system that monitors temperature levels and energy availability and controls charging and discharging speeds. Connected Energy has 12 Second Life Power Units operating on industrial land in the UK and Europe and plans to double this in the coming months. Ramsden expects more solutions from 2025, when EV drivers will start updating their cars for the first time and more batteries will be available. An unpublished study by Lancaster University saves approximately 1,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour provided by the Connected Energys storage system.

Matthew Lumsden, CEO of Connected Energys. The company reuses old EV batteries for stationary power storage units.Photo: HandoutRecycling: Low energy smelting

As performance levels begin to diminish the chances of reuse and reach the point where recycling becomes the most viable option. Most EVs run on lithium-ion batteries. Not only are they highly volatile to make them more ignitable, but despite their name, they are relatively low in lithium. Based in Belgium, which was once converted from a smelter to an urban miner, Umicore is a state-of-the-art recycling system that dissolves core components in metal alloys (including copper, nickel and cobalt) and concentrates (including lithium). Was developed. Rare earth elements). The energy of the battery itself and the organic parts of its material mean that relatively little energy is added to reach the temperature required for smelting, says company spokesman Marjolein Schaeers. Heat also comes from the burning of harmful gases produced by the process.

Umicores recycling site in Antwerp. The plant’s state-of-the-art system can recover core components and rare earth metals from EV batteries.Photo: Handout

The Umicores site in Antwerp’s Hoboken district is one of the largest in the world, capable of recycling 35,000 EV batteries annually. Low-impact battery recycling is essential to reducing the overall carbon dioxide emissions of rechargeable battery materials and provides recycled content to drive the transition to electrical mobility, Shares said. Says.

Transparency: Battery passport

How long it takes for an electric car buyer to enter the showroom on a single charge, not only the time it takes to reach from 0 km / h to 60 km / h, but also the movement of the car’s battery to reach it. What if you could also know the details of? Front yard? That is the goal of an ambitious project by the Global Battery Alliance (GBA). A public-private initiative coordinated by the World Economic Forum will launch a battery passport at the end of next year.

Digital tools are committed to tracking the management of social and environmental risks in the life of EV batteries, from potential human rights abuses in mineral extraction to energy use in their production. Anna Pienaar, GBA Executive Director, said voluntary passports will allow regulators to track the environmental and human rights impacts of EV batteries and allow customers to make more informed choices. I am. The project steering committee includes automakers Audi and Renault, as well as mining company Glencore.




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