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Recycle batteries for a greener world

When we think of the means available to us to save the planet, there is consensus around electric cars. However, the question that many are asking remains: “But what are we going to do with all these batteries when they are at the end of their life? The answer is being worked on.

Some major car manufacturers are actively addressing the issue and have already begun to develop processes so that the famous batteries of electric vehicles can be recycled almost infinitely. The Volkswagen Group, in particular, is already in action.

In a desire to reduce emissions on the planet, the German firm is currently working in collaboration with the company Redwood Materials to recycle the materials present in the lithium-ion batteries of electric vehicles. Its wish: to manufacture the future batteries of its electric vehicles using recycled materials, drawn from the old batteries of its fleet of electric vehicles.

Together, the two firms are well on their way to providing road users with another good reason to replace their gasoline-powered vehicle with an electric car.


PHOTO CAITLIN O’HARA, REUTERS ARCHIVES

Lucid Car Batteries

A valuable collaboration

The collaboration is currently going well between the two companies. Volkswagen dealers and those of its Audi subsidiary take care of removing the batteries from electric vehicles that are at the end of their life. You should know here that a battery is considered to be at the end of its life when it reaches around 70% of its original capacity.

Once mined, the batteries are shipped directly to Nevada, where Redwood Materials is based, a company that was founded by a rather knowledgeable man in the field, Jeffrey Brian Straubel, who was co-founder and Tesla’s first technical director.

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In its Nevada plant, his company will therefore recycle certain materials, as it does with other manufacturers (Ford and Toyota, in particular), and will then send them back to car manufacturers who can use them in new electric vehicles. Moreover, it is agreed that each manufacturer will only receive materials extracted from its own electric vehicles and not from vehicles of other manufacturers.

With regard to recycled materials, we are talking here about lithium, cobalt and nickel, among others. However, when we know what it costs the planet to extract these raw materials, we can safely say that this is excellent news.

It is understood that a firm like Volkswagen, still relatively new in the field of electric vehicles, will have to wait a few years before its batteries reach the end of their life. But until then, the work is still well and truly underway, since test batteries are already being sent to Nevada for use in the company’s research center.

all new, all beautiful

The industry is in its infancy, which does not prevent Redwood Materials from already recycling, each year, the equivalent of at least 60,000 electric vehicles in its Nevada plant. It’s not nothing ! Not to mention that this recycling will reduce the cost of batteries for future electric vehicles. A great deal from an ecological and financial point of view, therefore.

The process, which seems as happy as it is logical, is still not so simple. Currently, some argue that current recycling processes have losses. The problem is that recycled batteries are made with materials that, overall, are less functional than they were before recycling. Less effective too. The kind of problem that will have to be solved to reach the full potential of this process under development.

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The fact remains that the transition to electric vehicles and green energy is fast approaching and that, in this context, rechargeable batteries will be a major asset.

If this battery recycling project works as manufacturers wish, it will be interesting to measure the impact of this process on our ecological footprint.

That said, regardless of the results to come and how quickly you get them, I’m first and foremost impressed with how much automotive craftsmen are investing in research to leave a planet more own. The environment is in the process of reinventing itself and, decidedly, it is to its credit.

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