Lithium Battery Recycling to Reach $2B by 2022?


"EV battery recycling to become a significant part of the value chain by 2016."

Currently, there is little economic sense to recycle lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries; they contain just a small fraction of lithium carbonate as a percent of weight and are inexpensive versus cobalt or nickel. However, if the number of electric vehicles (EVs) and their associated battery packs increase in the long term, recycling will help validate the tag "green car" and ensure that the energy source of EVs are in a closed loop and complete a full lifecycle.

"Global Electric Vehicles Lithium-Ion Battery Second Life and Recycling Market Analysis" finds EV battery recycling will become a significant part of the value chain by 2016, when significant quantities of EV batteries will come through the waste stream for recycling. The EV Li-Ion battery recycling market is expected to be worth over $2 billion by 2022, with more than 500,000 end-of-life EV battery packs becoming available.

Although lithium currently costs less than other raw materials needed for manufacturing a battery, there's an inherent risk because its availability is dependent on a small geographic area. Almost 70% of lithium deposits are in South America.

For second life, Li-Ion batteries will compete with dedicated batteries used for current second-life applications like stationary grid storage and compete in terms of cost, power and energy storage, as most of the characteristics of Li-Ion batteries with regard to their degradation at reuse are still uncertain.

Apart from cobalt or nickel in existing battery packs, only a few valuable metals with the potential to be used in batteries are under research and development. The advent of Li-Ion batteries is expected to spur automotive and utility industries to sell common fuel electricity to consumers. Furthermore, with second life applications, Li-Ion batteries are poised to contribute to a further net reduction in emission, like that of carbon dioxide, beyond that achieved by using an EV.

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