We are curious about the fate of the battery in electric vehicles (EVs). Clearly, these battery packs have some toxicity to them, so how do you advocate environmental sustainability when the main component of EVs seems comparably bad for the planet at the end of its lifetime?
First, there a couple different kinds of units used in EVs: lithium-ion, nickel-metal hydride, and lead-acid (conventional car batteries). The environmental toxicity depends on the make and model of EV, and since some earlier models (such as EV1 and RAV4EV) are produced with conventional lead-acid chemistry, they carry more toxic characteristics than the other two aforementioned.
But, the good news is that nearly all of the material in an EV battery can be recycled. Although it seems far into the future for now (up to ten years for a new Prius), companies like Toxco and The Rechargable Battery Association anticipate the influx of used EV batteries. The infrastructure for this type of recycling in its infant, but so is the EV industry itself.
At Nissan, initiatives for a new battery recycling program called The 4Rs for Batteries involve reusing, refabricating, reselling, and recycling the aged battery. Car companies and automakers say that when the electric component is deemed dead for driving purposes, nearly three-quarters of its energy capacity still remains. This means that it can be used as a storage battery for renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. For example, used batteries can be used to absorb some of the power generated in off-peak periods by wind generators.
The U.S Department of Energy recently awarded $9.5 million toward a new lithium-ion recycling facility. The underlying message is that hybrid and electric car manufacturers are working very hard on a solid infrastructure to make sure the battery doesn’t go to waste.
What is the fate of your battery?
Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.