EV Batteries after life | Battery Recycling Process

EV Batteries after life, What will happen to 100 billion of EV batteries? Isn’t it a new threat to us!

Is it really electric vehicles designed to get rid of carbon footprints to save lives and the only mother planet or is it just a hype to boost the sales of the automobile business? Let’s see in this post of EV batteries after the life story and impacts.

Businesses around the globe, everyday they come up with new ideas to boost the sales and services and take out more money from customers. So is it the case that EVs are taking place by fooling us, that this is to save us and our future from global warming, and auto-mobile industries are really very much concerned about saving life and the only Earth!

In this post we will see, what’s the process of dead batteries recycling and what it causes and cost?

We all started loving EVs now-a-days and day-by-day sales are even booming, almost all the countries have set their goal to switch to EVs by a set deadline. Why shouldn’t we? After-all this is interesting and less noisy in every aspect.

EVs running on electric motors instead of old school and bulky fossil fuel and gas powered engines. Electric motors of EVs get power from thousands of cell batteries sitting at the bottom of the chassis.

If we talk about the EV batteries then the Lithium-Ion batteries are leading over other batteries like Lead-acid, Nickel metal hydride and Zebra batteries. These four are the batteries used for electric vehicles till now. But we all know that’s not enough for us, we need more as-always (We never stop saying, I want more).

EVs are still growing and have to evolve even with more power, more speed, more range and faster charging (or maybe charging free technology). That could only be possible with the next breakthrough of battery technology like Graphene battery or capturing Solar Winds.

Whatever will be the next breakthrough in battery technology that we will see in coming years, but for now after Lithium-ion, companies are working on graphene batteries. This is only the next breakthrough in battery technology. Many other technologies are still in labs and waiting to be mature like Graphene, which is getting popular around the world and might take the place of lithium batteries. Well all of this to give extra juice to electronic devices.

Isn’t this good news? “Of course it is”. Even the price will go down. But have we thought about its consequences?

Fuel-based vehicles and industrial engines released tons of toxic gases in our environment for decades and raised the temperature worldwide. Also responsible for dirtying the rivers, hollowing the earth (which might have caused the earthquakes), took many lives, vanished many species, and so on.

So to get rid of all of these problems and control global warming, air pollution and noise pollution. We humans (yes we two legged evolved monkeys) have discovered the next breakthrough in technology (that what we call) to save the planet and ourselves, and other lives too! That revolutionary technology is electric vehicles which will be powered by thousands of battery cells instead of fossil fuels. Which suppresses burning, toxic pollution, vroom-vroom noise and more. It is interesting, naa! Yes it is, this technology is like a single bullet to kill many enemies.

But wait, in all this, one question arises that “What happens to EV batteries after life?” Not just the EV batteries, almost every single electronic device is now powered by batteries and more will be powered-by as we continue our journey to the future. Mobile phones, Laptops, Smart watches, Music Systems, Drones, Toys, Inverters, UPS, and many more. All of it is powered by batteries. In future Planes and choppers will also be powered by batteries.

But in fact batteries are also so toxic, it may not pollute the air as much as fossil fuel does after burning in a combustion chamber. But it does pollute land and rivers after and before life.

We will wake up again after it is too late, as always. When we took down billions of trees, we woke up and started a campaign to plant trees and save the earth. When the virus came, we waited to turn it into a pandemic. Air turned toxic and started to seriously affect our health and vanished many species and lives from earth then woke up and sang EVs-Evs-Evs. What song will we sing next after batteries become the matter of death? Solar-solar-solar or Horses-Horses-Horses!

Horses will say “Shit, Again?”.

Well jokes apart, let’s come to the topic and see the life cycle of batteries and its impact on lives. There are many common questions regarding EV batteries’ life story and recycling process. Here are few we’ve curated and sharing:

What happens to EV batteries after life?

It becomes waste, as current batteries aren’t designed to be recycled to increase the life.

Recycling doesn’t matter, because you can’t keep any object in the same state forever. Not specially on this planet. Where everything ages and dies one day.

You may increase the recycle of a battery from 10 to 100 or 1000 times but that day will finally come when that battery will surrender to be recycled and will need a grave to be buried.

Can batteries be fully recycled?

No, not at all. Not a single type of battery is fully recyclable. Some batteries are not even recyclable, but some batteries are recyclable, like lead-acid automotive batteries can be 90% recycled. After 10-50% waste each time it becomes full 100% waste at all. In practice not a single battery is recyclable.

What types of batteries are recyclable?

Almost all the batteries are non-recyclable except lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. Batteries being produced aren’t designed to be recycled. However researchers have found the three technical process to recycle battery:

  1. Direct Recycling
  2. Hydrometallurgy Process
  3. Pyrometallurgy Process

How easy or hard is battery recycling?

In short, battery recycling isn’t easy, it is a very hazardous and crucial process to recycle the EV batteries after life ends or surrender to work anymore. Also there is a limit to it. Not even a single type of battery can be recycled again-n-again, it will come up to the end finally (it will be completely wasted after all). Each time of recycling 50% of dead battery chemicals can be used to make new batteries and the other 50% becomes waste. So in reality 50% of the all dead battery goes into the drain with toxicity.

For now lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries are being recycled by three processes. Which generates lots of waste and emits tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

1. Direct Recycling

Direct recycling is the easiest and ideal process to recycle EV batteries after life, which keeps the cathode mixture intact and makes it easy to re-assemble into a new battery.

Well this is not that easy though. It is a very complex and hazardous process where dead batteries need to be completely discharged first, then shred the battery cells and remove the binders and solvents. After that, separate the cathode and anode using flotation technique.

2. Hydrometallurgy Process

In this process dead battery materials get dunks into a pool of some kind of acid which liquifies them all and extracting cathode process begins from there. Getting batteries dunks into the acids starts reaction and releases very dangerous gases into air. Also those liquefied acid goes into drains after doing their job.

3. Pyrometallurgy Process

In this Pyrometallurgy process batteries get shredded mechanically then burning it leaves a charred mass of plastic, metals and glues. Further more companies extract the required material and dumps the useless material as waste.

EV batteries after life | Battery recycling process for lead-acid
EV batteries after life recycling process infographic. Source : https://doerun.com

Conclusion

​This is how we are doing our best to solve the biggest problem and shield us against new threats. Billions of batteries will be working in a few years to run the millions of beloved electric vehicles and other electronic devices.

Many research labs are working hard to get rid of this problem and find a better solution to recycle the dead EV batteries after life, which reverse impact the environment. But for now we know how EV batteries will impact lives again and what’s the recycling process still being used to give repeated life of dead batteries.