In the last couple of years, the number of Electric Vehicles (EVs) being sold worldwide has been growing at a promising rate, and that’s good news for the environment. The problem, however, is that when these cars reach the end of the road, they are expected to leave their old batteries behind as a nasty residue.
And with e-waste already being a massive worldwide problem, the EV industry analysts say that similar difficulties could develop when EVs and their batteries reach the end of their lives.
But a recent study conducted by researchers in the UK puts forward some interesting solutions to this global waste challenge. The scientists say valuable materials, including cobalt, could be extracted or “harvested” from the EV lithium-ion batteries when they no longer work: these materials could then be used to make new batteries.
According to the study, an EV battery – much like a battery in a mobile phone – loses some of its effectiveness during its life cycle, but can still hold up to 80% of its power. While it’s not suitable for continued road use, it can be adapted for other purposes. A good use would be using the old EV batteries for energy storage to feed into the electricity grid or directly into buildings. In Japan, for instance, the Toyota car company has pioneered a scheme which hooks up old EV batteries with solar panels to power convenience stores.
As more EVs are sold worldwide every year, it’s vital that the industry embraces such solutions to address this growing problem.