As we fight to recycle lithium-ion batteries, what future for electric vehicles in India?


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With countries still chasing Li-Ion batteries, they have been labeled obsolete.

They find uses in consumer goods like cell phones, laptops, other electronic devices and even in several industries as a critical input.

The best use that makes them the most desirable is their legacy use in electric vehicles or electric vehicles. Lithium-ion batteries bring dreams of electric mobility to life.

Indeed, lithium-ion batteries constitute the most important part of these green vehicles, covering almost 50% of their total cost.

Without adequate access to these batteries, sustainable mobility was seen as just a far-fetched idea.

Why are electric vehicles being promoted around the world?

The world and its conventions vouch for the use of electric vehicles because of their comparative advantages in preserving the environment.

The second reason for a country like India to seek this option remains the large ForEx (Foreign Exchange) imbalance we face when importing oil into the country for energy.

But some challenges in dealing with the very lithium that we saw as our savior have caused us to give up the same, in just a few decades.

On the one hand, India does not have a significant source of metals like cobalt or lithium, for use in electric vehicles.

On top of that, most lithium supplies (97%) are controlled by China, and its availability in the open market is disrupted by any gap in bilateral relations.

Their treatment and elimination after the end of their life because they are dangerous and sometimes explosive in nature.

Therefore, their safety should be ensured by proper recycling, in an environmentally friendly way without denigrating more lives, it means saving all the time.

Hence, there are alternatives such as lithium metal batteries or aluminum air batteries etc. entering the electric vehicle market.

In addition, as one expert explains: “EV packs are complex to disassemble into individual cells, so recyclers must unload the packs into conductive baths before mechanically shredding them into a mixture of constituent materials.”

“In addition, new batteries are currently less expensive to produce, which discourages recycling of batteries as the value of recovered materials is reduced. “

But it should be noted how some companies in India have patented this technology to proceed.

Why is recycling necessary?

30% of a single Li-ion cell is made up of the required metals including cobalt, graphite, lithium, nickel, manganese, copper, etc.

Li-ion battery

If attempted by the best of routes, cobalt (battery grade) with even 98% purity, or pharmaceutical grade lithium carbonate, etc. can be successfully mined.

In addition to finding uses in Li-Ion batteries, they can also be used as a component in psychotropic drugs.

Due to various limitations in acquiring these rarities, recycling seems to be the best imperative available.

For example, 70 percent of the world’s cobalt comes from the DR Congo region where it is achieved using child labor and terrorist regimes.

In addition to the above benefit, we are not burning or digging up the Earth’s lithosphere to get our hands on these bulky minerals.

Thus, to ensure a smooth energy transition, provide decent growth in electric mobility and make an Atmanirbhar Bharat, India will have to ensure the investments that are pouring into the sector.

Lithium-ion recycling and the world:

A new report from Wood Mackenzie has attempted to visualize the expected penetration of electric vehicles in the global market to reach 23% by 2030.

And thereafter, the demand for batteries is expected to reach 89% by 2040, compared to the current demand and this increase can be attributed more to the automotive sector.

The lead author of the report explains: “The demand market for Li-ion batteries can fluctuate over the months and expand upstream and midway to produce battery materials, implying delays of several years.”

“Because this is a new industry, the historical ability to turn on the switch is limited, yet many see it as an environment for recycling to have a tangible impact. “

Shedding new light on the green mobility sector during this decade, the report mentions:

The supply chain will become further established to be able to supply large quantities of chemicals and battery grade cathodes to cell manufacturers, while recyclers will grapple with the large mass and complexity of EV packs. “

Another limit to recycling batteries is their increasingly long lifespan, i.e. up to 15 years.

For this reason, the report states that there is a lack of secondary supply from recycling, which is evident.

And the total capacity of planned recycling facilities could see an available raw material increase in 2030 when end-of-life electric vehicles start to disappear from the markets.

Will China continue to dominate the electric vehicle market even in this decade?

China has strived to develop more integrated raw material supply chains than any other country and will therefore remain the most attractive place to invest in battery recycling.

India is right on the brink of another revolution and it will only give in if we use the very opportunity we have now, start restructuring our supply chains and safely break redundant batteries to ensure uptime. .

We have the technology to recycle Li-Ion batteries which can help us solve the problem of hazardous electronic waste and become a budding leader in the production of green batteries.

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About Lucille Thompson

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