To stop the climate from worsening, the world has begun shifting to electric vehicles. An electric automobile obtains its power straight from a large pack of batteries, as opposed to internal combustion engined cars that get their energy from fossil fuel combustion.
The connection between a battery and electric motors, which power the vehicle’s wheels, is surprisingly straightforward. When you step on the gas, the car immediately supplies the motor with power, which gradually uses up the energy stored in the batteries.
All-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and hybrid electric vehicles require energy storage equipment, typically batteries (HEVs).
Types of Battery Storage System
Following energy storage systems are used in all-electric vehicles, PHEVs, and HEVs.
- Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are generally used in portable consumer electronics, such as cell phones and laptops, as they contain high energy per unit mass compared to other electrical energy storage systems. They also have high energy efficiency, power-to-weight ratio, low-self discharge, and high-temperature performance. Components of lithium-ion batteries can be recycled in most cases, but material recovery is expensive. So the industry continues to face challenges. Although the specific chemistry frequently differs from that of consumer electronics batteries, most all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road today use lithium-ion batteries. To lower their high cost, increase their usable life, and address overheating safety issues, companies are investing millions of dollars in R&D on lithium-ion batteries.
- Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries
Commonly found in computer and medical devices, nickel-metal hydride batteries have adequate specific energy and power capabilities. Nickel-metal hydride batteries have a larger life span than Lead-acid batteries and are more secure and abuse resistant. HEVs have frequently used these batteries. The biggest problems with nickel-metal hydride batteries are their high price, high self-discharge, significant heat generation at high temperatures, and hydrogen loss.
- Lead-Acid Batteries
Lead-acid batteries can be designed to be high power, and they are also affordable, secure, and trustworthy. However, their employment is limited by their low specific energy, poor cold-temperature performance, short calendar, and short lifecycle. A high-power lead-acid battery is being developed, but for now, these batteries are only used in commercially available electric vehicles for ancillary loads.
Ultracapacitors store their energy in a polarized liquid between an electrode and an electrolyte. The liquid’s surface area grows along with its ability to store energy. Vehicles with ultracapacitors may accelerate more quickly, climb hills more efficiently, and recover brake energy. Because they assist electrochemical batteries in balancing load power, they may also be helpful as secondary energy storage systems in electric-drive cars.
Because electric vehicles are relatively new to the market, a small number have already reached the end of their lives. With electric vehicles increasingly becoming common due to the high rate of petrol, diesel, and CNG, the battery recycling industries have expanded.
Battery recycling can keep hazardous materials from entering the waste stream. The material recovery from recycling reintroduces this material back into the supply chain and increases the domestic sources for such materials. Companies are working to invent new techniques for battery recycling that can minimize the cost of production and maximize the lifespan of batteries.
Some of the most common battery recycling techniques used by the battery recycling companies are:
The smelting process is used to recover salts and elements. This process is operational on a large scale as multiple batteries, including lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride, can be accepted in this battery-recycling process. In the smelting process, high temperature is induced to burn organic materials such as electrolytes and carbon anodes. The valuable metals are recovered and sent to be refined to be used for any purpose. In addition to lithium, other materials are found in slag, used in concrete as an additive.
- Direct recovery
Some recycling processes directly recover battery-grade materials, and direct recovery is an energy-efficient low-temperature process. However, specific recycling processes are designed to recover materials suitable for batteries. All active compounds and metals can be recovered after separating the components using various physical and chemical techniques.
- Intermediate Processes
Between the two extremes is the third sort of process. Direct recovery only recovers materials further along the production line, whereas the intermediate processes accept a wide range of battery types.
The need to separate the various battery materials frequently hampered the recovery of high-value materials. Therefore, the design of batteries that take disassembly and recycling into account is crucial for the sustainability of electric-drive vehicles. It would also be simpler and more affordable to recycle batteries if their components, materials, and cell designs were standardized.
BTEX Energies is a battery recycling company that extracts rare Earth metals, such as Lithium, Cobalt, Nickel, and Manganese, from used Lithium-ion cells to create a circular Economy. They are creating new techniques to recycle the batteries so that precious rare Earth metals can go back into manufacturing Lithium-ion batteries.