January 16, 2021

New techniques are needed

In a position paper, scientists describe challenges and solutions in battery recycling of electric cars. The future of e-mobility depends crucially on this.

The breakthrough in electromobility in Germany is still imminent, the sales figures for electricians are low. But with the ever increasing number of electric cars delivered worldwide, the topic of recycling is becoming more and more pressing. What has developed over the decades in conventional combustion engines into a well-coordinated and effective raw material cycle between new car production and recycling of used cars is still a long way off with modern electric vehicles. Because in addition to the usual parts of a car, the Stromer ultimately consist largely of their energy storage.

Battery recycling determines the future of the electric car
The traction battery of an Audi E-Tron, for example, weighs 700 kilograms, and several hundred kilos for the lithium-ion batteries are generally standard in modern electric cars. This is the real dilemma, because the batteries are not only extremely expensive, they are also complex and very difficult to disassemble into their individual components. Sorting according to type is a basic requirement for any recycling.

In a position paper, the Fraunhofer Project Group for Recycling and Resource Strategy (IWKS) has now summarized facts, challenges and solutions that deal with the topic of battery recycling. The future of electromobility depends to a large extent on a sensible solution to this issue, not least because the raw materials used in the current traction batteries are sometimes very expensive and not infrequently obtained under questionable conditions.

The paper reports, for example, that up to 500 million lithium-ion battery cells will have to be disposed of by 2020 in the United States alone, with an increase to up to 4.5 billion battery cells conceivable in 2030. It must be taken into account here that vehicle batteries with less than 80 percent of their original storage capacity are no longer used as drive batteries and can possibly still be used in stationary batteries.