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Has Tesla Solved The World’s Battery Recycling Problem?

Tesla has announced it has developed a unique battery recycling system at its Nevada gigafactory that can maximize the recovery of critical battery minerals including lithium and cobalt, the company said in its 2018 Impact Report.

According to the report, “Through this system, the recovery of critical minerals such as lithium and cobalt will be maximized along with the recovery of all metals used in the battery cell, such as copper, aluminum and steel. All of these materials will be recovered in forms optimized for new battery material production.”

The battery recycling problem that the world is facing has come to light only recently as sales of electric vehicles pick up strongly and as forecasts almost invariably point to an acceleration of this trend in the years to come. Since batteries don’t have an infinite life, this means the battery load for recycling will also increase substantially, which has sparked a race in recycling technologies.

Earlier this year, a Finnish company, for example, announced that it had reached a recycling rate of 80 percent for EV batteries using a hydrometallurgical recycling process with a low CO2 footprint. According to the company, Fortum, the technology could be used for all industries using batteries.

The battery recycling market could reach a size of about US$23 billion a year by 2025 thanks to the increased adoption of EVs, Reuters noted in a recent report on the topic. This makes recycling technologies that can recover most of the metals and minerals used in lithium ion batteries all the hotter given that recycling is much easier on the environment in terms of carbon emissions than the mining of new minerals to be used in new batteries.

As per the Tesla report, “The closed-loop battery recycling process at Gigafactory 1 presents a compelling solution to move energy supply away from the fossil-fuel based practice of take, make and burn, to a more circular model of recycling end-of-life batteries for reuse over and over again.”

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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