It would appear that having your EV totaled doesn’t affect the recycling much. Everything is melted or dissolved.
Currently, the only EV battery material worth recycling is cobalt. That leaves lithium, manganese, and nickel, among a host of other materials that may not be economically recyclable or require additional processing that drives cost. That’s not only bad for the environment since there is a ton of leftover material, it’s also bad for recyclers because unless there’s a buyer lined up for lithium and manganese, they could be out of luck. The two main methods for recycling batteries involve either extreme temperatures or acid…
Beyond the fact that it’s labor-intensive and sometimes dangerous to recycle the materials inside a battery, as explained by Science.org , the costs involved with transporting the batteries from one place to another are considerable expenses. Estimates peg the costs of transporting EV batteries to constitute as much as 40% of the overall costs of recycling. Additionally, due to the fire risk, some shipping and transport companies have strict guidelines on how and when EVs can be transported. Those who accept the loads might charge extra for the risk and hassle involved.
EV batteries pose big risks — and new figures reveal how much hazardous waste they could create
Experts are warning of a “huge waste stream” that poses a triple threat: fire risks in landfill, environmental impacts, and health hazards caused if toxic chemicals leech into land and waterways…
The BSC [Battery Stewardship Council] has long been warning about the risks of lithium batteries combusting in landfill if they are damaged or crushed…“Right now, with the smaller [lithium] batteries in the general waste and recycling stream, they’re seeing fires in waste tracks on a pretty regular basis,” Ms Chaplin said. “Electric vehicles are just going to take that to another level.”…
Griffith University Professor Rodney Stewart, who researches how the renewable energy industry can deal with its own waste, backed the UTS modelling as “reasonable” but was worried it could be too conservative. That’s because he believes many EV batteries might not live up to performance expectations for drivers and will be dumped earlier than 16 years into their lives.
Battery recycling giant Ecobat is building its first lithium-ion battery recycling facility in North America – its third li-ion battery recycling facility globally.
It’s a huge international company – it’s got sites in Europe, southern Africa, and the US. It has 12 secondary smelting facilities, a primary smelting facility, three lithium-focused facilities, a collection truck fleet, and 65,000 battery collection points.
The new facility in Casa Grande, Arizona, will initially produce around 10,000 tons of recycled material annually, and there are plans to expand capacity to meet the growing demand in the shift to electrification.
Ecobat Casa Grande will repurpose end-of-life li-ion batteries through diagnostics, sorting, shredding, and material separation. The company says it will launch in the third quarter of this year.
Redwood Materials (founded by former Tesla founder JB Straubel) recycles Li-ion batteries. They reclaim much more than cobalt. They have a periodic table on their website showing over a dozen metals they reclaim
I suspect the real solution is not in recycling batteries (although that will be necessary). It is in rebuilding or refurbishing battery packs.
Right now, if the case of your battery pack is bent in an accident, odds are the car will be totaled and the battery pack tossed in the recycle pile. But the individual cells inside the pack might be perfectly fine. A much more “earth-friendly” use for those cells is to use them as is. To use them as the batteries they are.
I’m not sure how the details would work, but if I were younger and entrepreneurial, I’d be learning all I can about batteries and figure out how to take a “bad” battery pack and either rebuild it, repair it, or repurpose the individual cells inside.
My initial thought would be to find a way to test the electronics of a damaged battery pack. If that tests out to original factory specs, fixing the case is the best way to recycle that pack. Reusing good cells from one pack to replace failed cells in another would be another idea - although that depends more on the ability to get inside a pack to make the repair. My understanding is that is virtually impossible to do with the structural Tesla battery packs. Getting inside those is a destructive process, so you’d also need to replace the parts you have to destroy to get inside.
Another thought would be to take the packs apart down to the individual cells, test those cells, and then sell the good ones off to be used in some new product (perhaps even for aftermarket battery packs for the original item, such as an EV.) If the cost for the “scrap” parts plus disassembly and testing is less than the cost of producing new cells, there’s a viable business hiding in there.
This company rebuilds Prius hybrids batteries that you can buy for ~1/3rd the cost of a new one
There are numerous others like them.
This makes sense, now, for the large number of old Prius’ out there.
When there are millions of old EVs maybe it will make sense for them too
Rich Benoit whom Tesla aficionados hate has established independent Tesla repair shops (2). I believe the workers are former Tesla employees. Others will follow.
Tesla wishes to maintain rigid control of Tesla repair[1,2]. Peruse this link. Yes Rich’s employees improvised a solution but the customer was happy.
I can understand why Tesla is pursuing this strategy as a lot of profit is involved. But vehicle owners are used to being able to go to independent shops. I don’t believe Tesla will be successful in maintaining total repair rights especially more, better EV competition occurs
From the OP:
" According to a recent study from CCC Intelligent Solutions Inc., for example, based on actual insurance claims for small, non-luxury-brand cars with front-end damage that were still driveable, the average EV model cost $4,041 to fix. That was about 27% more than the average for roughly comparable non-EV models."
Similar news out of the UK. The report also mentions that not only do they cost 26% more than ICE cars, and take 14% longer to repair, damaged EV’s need a lot more space than damaged ICE cars do. During the first couple of days, they need much more space. The government recommends the cars stay 15m apart for at least 48 hours.
Jonathan Hewett, chief executive of Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, said a lack of “insight and understanding” about the cost of repairing damaged electric car batteries was pushing up premiums and resulting in some providers declining to provide cover altogether. Electric cars can be particularly expensive to repair, costing around a quarter more to fix on average than a petrol or diesel vehicle. Experts have previously warned electric vehicles are being written off after minor bumps because of the cost and complexity of fixing their batteries…
John Lewis Financial Services stopped providing car insurance for electric cars last month for new and existing customers, as its underwriter Covéa analysed risks and costs…Average electric car insurance costs rose 72% in the year to September, compared to 29% for petrol and diesel models, according to Confused.com…
Some customers are now being quoted over £100 a week to insure their electric vehicles, with others reporting premiums doubling or tripling compared to a year before. One reason attributed to the steep rise in the cost of electric car repairs stems from recommendations for electric cars to be kept 50ft apart in repair yards over fears they might explode. Government guidelines suggest electric vehicles with damaged batteries should be “quarantined” from other cars due to the risk of battery fires…