On the evening of the 25th February 2020, Martin Goosey from Env-Aqua Solutions Ltd presented his recent work in the VALUABLE project at the Institute of Circuit Technology’s Winter Evening Seminar. The event was held at the Best Western Hotel, Meriden, Solihull and was attended by a wide range of academics and industrialists from around the UK.
Martin’s lecture was entitled ‘Electric Vehicle Battery Reuse and Recycling Opportunities'. In his presentation, he addressed the need to adopt circular economy approaches to lithium-ion battery recycling in the context of the global commitment to move from internal combustion engines to full electric propulsion systems. The rate at which this change was now mandated by legislation in the UK, and many other countries, would generate a huge demand for raw materials such as lithium and cobalt, so the need to recover and recycle these key elements was more important than ever.
However, there were also opportunities to reuse vehicle batteries in secondary applications such as domestic storage and power management, or at solar cell farms. While reuse and recycling both had merits, they also had some disadvantages and he compared and contrasted the different approaches, stating the situation was very complex and the best route depended on a variety of important factors. There were a number of benefits to be realised, such as reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and job creation opportunities, but it also had to be recognised that battery performance had improved, and costs reduced, significantly over the last ten years.
This raised the question of whether it was better to reuse or recycle an old battery, when a new high performance one could be purchased at a much lower price. Different organisations had adopted different approaches and there was no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Martin concluded by summarising the benefits and issues around battery reuse and recycling and said that it would be some time before there was a unanimously accepted single best approach to end of life vehicle battery reuse and recycling.