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Recycling News

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The Future of EV Battery Recycling

 by Jack McLellan,

The Future of Electric Vehicles

Electric and hybrid cars are taking off globally as a more sustainable alternative to gasoline-powered cars. Researchers predict that 90% of all passenger vehicles in the U.S., Canada, and Europe will be electric by 2040. The increased demand for electric vehicles also means increased demand for batteries to power these cars. But what happens once electric vehicles and their batteries reach the end of their lifespan? That’s where electric vehicle battery recycling comes into play.

Most electric car batteries last around 10-15 years or 150-200k miles on average. Once they hit those ranges, the battery life is typically at about 70% capacity and no longer energy-efficient enough to use. Because electric vehicles started to become popular and mass-produced a bit over a decade ago, we’re beginning to see the beginning of EV batteries coming in for recycling.

What Are EV Batteries Made of?

Lithium-ion batteries generally power electric vehicle batteries. Lithium is a manufactured element that powers many things, including batteries. These batteries are powered by an anode, a cathode (usually made from graphite), and electrolytes (typically lithium oxide). Lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode when the battery is used, providing it with energy. When charging, the flow is reversed. 

Lithium-ion batteries are cost-efficient and have good storage capacity, making them a popular choice for EV manufacturers. Other components used in lithium-ion batteries include lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, manganese, and aluminum.

Are EV Batteries Recyclable?

A majority of the parts in electric vehicle batteries can be recycled. The metals within the batteries are valuable and can be reused for future EVs, reducing the strain on the mining industry.

How Are EV Batteries Recycled?

Electric vehicle batteries are recycled in special facilities that break down the batteries for the valuable metals inside. The batteries are disassembled by shredding, separating the different components by size and material for further processing. Ferrous and nonferrous metals are separated from materials like plastics. Many metals in these batteries, such as cobalt, can be reused indefinitely once purified.

New technology is continuously being researched and developed to make this process more efficient as demand increases. Over the next decade, we’ll likely see breakthroughs for more efficient ways to manage lithium-ion batteries.

What’s the Growth Potential for the EV Battery Recycling Industry?

Precedence Research reports that the EV battery recycling market reached USD 1.6 billion in 2021. The market is projected to increase to approximately USD 19.3 billion by 2030, with a significant Compound Annual Growth Rate of 31.87% from 2022 to 2030.

Currently, recycling EV batteries is expensive and time-consuming for recycling firms due to the lack of demand. The biggest issue for EV battery recycling companies right now is a lack of sufficient batteries. However, as electric vehicles become more common and, therefore, more affordable, more people will own electric cars. We’re already seeing EV batteries coming in for recycling, and they will only become more abundant. This makes preparing for the coming boom of batteries all the more vital if you want to stay ahead.

What Comes Next?

If you’re thinking about jumping into the electric vehicle recycling industry, it’s a good idea to keep up with current and future trends in both the electric vehicle market and the battery recycling market. With high projected revenue, the industry is only just getting started. 

General Kinematics has experience with all different kinds of recycling processes. We have engineered innovative new recycling equipment such as the FINGER-SCREEN™ Primary Vibratory Screen and the DE-STONER® Air Classifier to make recycling efficient, low energy, and low maintenance. To learn more about GK’s recycling equipment, contact us today!

Jack McLellan

Marketing Coordinator

Jack specializes in creating compelling digital marketing content such as social media, blog posts, newsletters, and more. He works with General Kinematics industry experts to develop educational content for the foundry, recycling, mining, and aggregate industries.