Electric cars can be seen as a double-edged sword by many. While they are the most efficient machines out there, radical environmentalists still criticize them because they are cars – and we should all be riding on foot, bikes or public transportation. More rational people concerned with the environment are worried about batteries. They require mining and are not seen as properly recyclable. Luckily, the Fully Charged YouTube channel showed in its latest video Duesenfeld may have found the solution to cut this criticism once and for all: hydrometallurgy.
Instead of burning down used lithium-ion cells, Duesenfeld developed a method that recovers most of the battery materials, such as cobalt, nickel, manganese, lithium, and even graphite. Not only that: the German company can recycle the energy used batteries still have.
Part of the recycling process demands the packs to be discharged entirely. Duesenfeld uses this energy in its operations and claims it can account for half of the demands its recycling method demands.
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When the batteries are fully discharged – no pun intended – they are disassembled. Cables, cases, screws, and the cooling system components are separated from the core of the battery and also recycled.
The cells then head to Duesenfeld’s mechanical process. It shreds the battery to tiny pieces. Regular battery recycling processes burn them to get the metals back to production, with an efficiency of only 32 percent. Duesenfeld’s mechanical process has a recovery efficiency of 72 percent. And it is not the only one.
The most promising method is the hydrometallurgy. It helps dilute the components in acid and separate them with an efficiency of 91 percent, according to the company. It also states it is not able to recover only two things: the EC electrolyte (5 percent) and the separator (4 percent).
If the methods applied by Duesenfeld prove to be economically viable, they also offer a substantial environmental benefit. Getting precious raw materials back to the cycle adds up to 8,100 kg of CO2 that is emitted in mining these same commodities.
When you compare Diesenfeld’s recycling method to the pyrometallurgical process – burning everything to get the metals back – you also save 4,800 kg of CO2.
Although some claim science is not the solution to the most severe world problems, this video shows these claims lack substance. Science, on the other hand, has a lot of it, especially in teaching ways to preserve personal transportation in a clean fashion. Thank you for that, Duesenfeld and Fully Charged.