Just imagine if an old car battery could be stripped and all those materials used in new cars. It is now possible, thanks to the Swedish company Northvolt. Last month, they presented the first battery made entirely of recycled materials. It should become the future.
The metals in a car battery are mostly made up of lithium. But it contains other metals, including nickel, manganese and cobalt. Northvolt was able to isolate the latter three from old batteries and then reuse them in a brand new battery. Over the next few months, the company will be running tests on the battery to see if it meets all the requirements of a new battery. If it does, Northvolt hopes to soon be extracting metals from car batteries on a larger scale.
We also recycle batteries in the Netherlands, in the Port of Rotterdam.
Recovering metals from batteries is a complicated process. You simply can’t take a strip of metal out of a battery, because everything is attached to and stuck on top of each other. Plus, the metal becomes contaminated after years of use. To get the metal out of a battery in a clean way, they soak it in a special solution which loosens the metals and allows them to be isolated. This allows 95% of all three metals to be recovered.
Why is it important to recycle batteries?
Car batteries contain a lot of expensive metals. There is only a finite amount of these materials left on earth. If we drive electric cars en masse, a whole lot of this material will be needed. Therefore, by recycling batteries, you reduce the need for fresh materials. This is not only good for reducing waste, it also cuts down on CO². After all, extracting metals from the earth is not an environmentally friendly process.
Northvolt is now concentrating on three metals of which there are relatively few in a battery. The most important of these is lithium, which in the battery is not actually sourced from old batteries. This will have to be done in the future, because lithium is also a scarce metal.
But a battery that uses 100 percent recycled lithium is very challenging, because the lithium becomes weathered by being charged and discharged while driving. Northvolt plans to perfect the process of making recycled batteries over the coming years in the hope that by 2030 there will be batteries made of 50 % recycled material.
This article is courtesy of ChangeInc, who Innovation Origins has an editorial partnership with.