For many, the batteries are probably the biggest scumbag in the discussion about the environmental friendliness of e-cars. Anyone who deals with the subject has certainly asked themselves what actually happens to the monster batteries once they have done their job. In this guide you can read whether they will continue to be used and how to proceed as soon as they give up the spoon.
Electric car battery: capacity reaches 70 percent
The lithium-ion battery in electric cars should not be underestimated: thousands and thousands of charging cycles and sometimes far more than 200,000 kilometers lasts the battery before the battery capacity noticeably decreases. Some Tesla models have odometer readings of over 800,000 kilometers, even after 185,000 kilometers they still have a capacity of over 90 percent despite degradation.
But no matter how much you take care of the battery: There comes a time when the battery has a capacity of 80 to 70 percent and the guarantee expires. From 65 percent, the battery ends its “first life” as an e-car energy source, but the second begins: it is used as storage for the next 12 years on average. Only when the battery after almost 20 years of intensive use If it can only muster a third of its original capacity, it would gradually be put to rest – but the components are too valuable for the landfill. The battery is recycled.
EU directive: recycling of electric car batteries
Since 2022 there is finally an improvement in sight, after the resources had previously been used almost criminally. Because the EU directives from 2006 still applied. They dictated that only 50 percent of the total materials or the total weight would have to be recycled. At that time, however, manufacturers already reached the limit by removing the cases and a few components made of common materials. Rare earths were simply not recycled here for the most part (source: ADAC).
Fortunately, that will change in the future. For lithium-ion batteries, a lower limit of at least 65 percent will apply from 2025, also measured by total weight. However, nickel, lithium, copper and cobalt should now 90 percent recovered become (source: battery law). These raw materials – especially cobalt – are mined under mostly inhumane conditions and great damage to the environment (source: industriemagazin.at).
The reuse in newly produced batteries, as planned by the EU from 2025, is therefore an essential part of the new regulation. In addition, manufacturers must ensure both the durability and the lifespan of their own products accurately calculate and publish.
Will we completely dispense with rare earths in the future?
E-car battery: The recycling process
Unfortunately, even today, not all battery components can be 100 percent recovered. In order to be able to get as much out of it as possible, the Recycling process in several steps divided up. After the battery has been dismantled by hand, it is sorted, shredded and melted down. Finally, the materials are separated.
The resulting high energy costs and the associated financial outlay are the main reasons why in the past comparatively little recycled became.