As our cars are going electric, the demand for EVs has pushed the prices of critical minerals like cobalt, nickel, and lithium to new heights.
We need to recycle these batteries unless we want to keep mining the earth for these key metals.
Since the electric-drive vehicles are relatively new, the existing battery-recycling infrastructure can’t handle the volumes of batteries that will come to market as electrification ramps up.
New technologies are creating the opportunities
Extracting valuable materials from an EV battery is difficult and expensive.
But a Japanese company, Sumitomo Metal Mining has devised unique process to efficiently reuse the key components from discarded batteries. Their process involves crushing the batteries and then heating the resulting powder to specific temperatures, to recycle the raw metals used in batteries.
Such a process will be used for the first time in the world
Modifying the levels of oxygen present in the reaction, separates the copper, nickel, cobalt, and other rare metals.
Sumitomo plans to open a factory in 2023 that will process 7,000 tons of crushed batteries every year.
Around 200 tons of cobalt with nickel-manganese-cobalt cathodes could be extracted from these batteries. That is enough to create new batteries for 20,000 electric vehicles.