How To Recycle An Electric Car Battery

In recent years, there has been a shift when it comes to the types of cars people are driving. The shift from gasoline-powered cars to electric cars was the effect of the need to cut transportation pollution and help to solve the current climate crisis. But what do you do with the battery of your electric car once it has lived out its use?

The primary way to deal with an electric car battery after it has outlived its main use is to recycle the battery’s materials. There are recycling plants to which the battery can be taken that will assess the batteries in order to determine the best way to dispose of them.

This article will discuss the different places one can take an electric car battery to be recycled as well as how an electric car battery can be disposed of or reused. Continue reading to also learn the effects an electric car battery can have on the environment and what minerals are mined to make an electric car battery.

How To Dispose of Electric Car Batteries

While electric cars have proven that they help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions often produced by vehicles, the batteries that run the cars need to be dealt with once the car is no longer running. When it comes to the disposal of electric car batteries, the battery should be recycled rather than just thrown in the garbage. Rather than tossing away the battery once it has outlived its use, there are two other options for dealing with it:

  1. Recycle the parts of the battery or the battery itself
  2. Reuse the battery in another way outside of being used in a car

Recycling An Electric Car Battery

If you are driving an electric car, there is a good chance you have chosen to drive this type of car because you care about the environment; however, you must also be aware that once the car is no longer in useable condition, certain parts of the car must be dealt with or they may have a negative effect on the environment. One of these parts is the battery.

Electric cars will run on one of three main types of batteries:

  1. Lithium-Ion batteries
  2. Nickel-metal batteries
  3. Lead-acid batteries

The Lithium-Ion Battery

Most electric cars have lithium-ion batteries. While some other cars have nickel-metal hydride batteries or lead-acid batteries, it is most likely that your car carries a lithium-ion battery as nickel-metal hydride batteries are primarily used in hybrid-electric vehicles and lead-acid batteries are mainly used to supplement other battery loads.

Lithium-ion batteries are used mainly because they are very energy efficient, tend to perform well in high temperatures, and most parts of the lithium-ion battery can be recycled.

Recycling A Lithium-Ion Battery

In order to recycle a lithium-ion battery, it is best to find a location that handles the recycling of the batteries as well as the products that contain such batteries, such as electronics. While lithium-ion batteries are the ones most commonly used in electric cars, they also tend to be found in electronics.

The EPA recommends contacting the manufacturer, company, or automobile dealer that had installed the lithium-ion battery in order to determine the best option for disposing of the electric car battery. Through contacting the manufacturer, company, or automobile dealer, you will learn when you can take your electric car battery in order to recycle.

While recycling is the best way to dispose of the lithium-ion batteries found in electric cars, less than 5% of lithium-ion batteries were recycled. The same study found that 90% of lead-acid batteries that were used in gasoline-powered vehicles were recycled.

The Nickel-Metal Battery

The nickel-metal battery is commonly used in hybrid-electric cars. A hybrid-electric car is different from an electric car in that it relies on fuel in order to recharge the battery which cuts them from the definition of an electric car.

While these batteries tend to last longer than lithium-ion batteries and lead-acid batteries, they tend to cost more, have a high rate of self-discharge, and generate a great amount of heat at high temperatures. These make the battery less efficient in electric vehicles and is why they are primarily used in hybrid-electric cars.

The Lead-Acid Battery

These batteries tend to be used primarily as supplements for other battery loads. While these batteries tend to be less expensive, they have the shortest battery life out of the three we have discussed. These batteries also tend to work poorly in colder temperatures.

Reusing An Electric Car Battery

Once a car is taken off the road, the battery may still have a decent amount of juice still left in it. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of companies that are now trying to use these batteries for more stationary uses. Batteries that are used in this way are often referred to as “second-life” batteries.

As the purchasing of electric cars has risen over the last few years, many of these companies that produce these types of cars have begun looking into the “second-life” options for the batteries of these cars once the car is taken off of the road. Some companies that have begun looking into the idea of “second-life” (reused) battery uses are:

  • General Motors (GM)
  • Nissan
  • BMW
  • Mercedes-Benz

Effects of Electric Car Batteries on The Environment

The shift in buying electric cars stems from the want to decrease one’s carbon footprint in order to help the environment and provide a possible solution to the climate crisis. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, electric cars both help to reduce emissions and save money, but the battery from these electric cars could cause damage to the environment if it is not disposed of in a particular way.

However, the mining of the materials for electric car batteries tends to cause more environmental damage than the disposal of the batteries. The manufacturing of the batteries themselves can contribute to air, water, and soil pollution, yet the cars tend to make up for this with the decrease in emissions.

There are three main minerals that must be mined in order to produce an electric car battery:

  • Lithium
  • Cobalt
  • Nickel

The mining of these three materials can lead to environmental damage in the areas they are mined. The process to obtain the lithium-carbonate required for electric car batteries requires a lot of water usage in order to obtain the materials, while cobalt and nickel must both be mined from underground.

Final Thoughts

An electric car battery can still be useful even after the electric car is no longer running on the road. The best way to dispose of an electric car battery is to recycle the battery by taking it to a location that will handle the battery in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Many of the minerals that are needed to produce an electric car battery are obtained through mining, and recycling older batteries can help decrease the need for mining the resources.

Many companies have chosen to use a “second-life” method when it comes to the reusing of electric car batteries, and this ensures that the chemicals in the battery are used to the greatest extent which it can be used before the battery is disposed of.

When it is time to dispose of your electric car’s battery, it is best to get in touch with the company, manufacturer, or dealer of the car, so you know what to do with it.

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