Second Life of an Electric Vehicle Battery: Disposal or Reuse

The benefits of using an electric car are numerous. They reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, reduce noise pollution in cities, save fuel and use energy more efficiently.

At the same time, their batteries contain toxic chemicals that cannot be simply thrown into the landfill, and therefore they pose a significant environmental threat.

In such a situation, reusing or disposing of batteries becomes more and more urgent issues, because according to Bloomberg NEF estimates, it is expected that the global stock of electric car batteries will exceed 3.4 million units by 2025.

Batteries should definitely be reused or recycled, but understanding how to do this is a rather complicated, time-consuming, but realizable task.

Why and how to solve the problem of replacing electric car batteries

First-generation Nissan Leaf battery ©

Given the relative novelty of the global electric vehicle market, the issue of recycling batteries comes to the fore only now.

Starting this year, first-generation mass-electric vehicles such as the 2010 Nissan Leaf are retiring and are being replaced with new ones. This also means that for these models, owners should soon replace the batteries.

Most electric vehicles run on lithium-ion batteries, their creation is a complex process that involves the extraction of rare earth metals and their transportation over long distances, which can cause enormous damage to the environment. Some of them are mined in countries under sanctions or with a difficult political situation and working conditions.

It is estimated that at present only 5% of lithium-ion batteries that are used in consumer electronics are recycled. The build-up of “exhausted” mass for its initial purpose of batteries, especially from electric vehicles, will increase steadily.

Thus, finding ways to reuse the battery is becoming increasingly relevant. This is necessary in order to reduce the need for additional extraction of resources and protect the environment.

Even politicians recognize this. In the European Union and China, electric vehicle owners are legally required to recycle or reuse their batteries, and the United States will soon introduce similar practices.

Battery reuse by different companies around the world ©

It has long been known that electric vehicles are no longer suitable for powering electric vehicles, and still offer about 70% of their capacity. This residual battery life offers amazing opportunities for reuse.

In addition, batteries can be processed by melting, or rare, but extremely important metals, such as cobalt, can be extracted from them.

What can be done with the old battery?

The first thing you can do with your old battery is recycle it.

There are already several companies in the world that help consumers reuse and recycle electric vehicle batteries. Other companies are developing new technologies in this direction.

However, battery recycling is generally not beneficial, so reuse of batteries is a more pragmatic option that can even bring some profit or social benefits.

For example, in Japan, Nissan installed batteries for powering streetlights, in Ukraine at a popular ski resort, electric car batteries are used for the backup power system, Renault has batteries that support lifts in Paris, BMW equips fast charging stations with its batteries, and recently the stadium in Amsterdam was powered from Nissan Leaf batteries. Examples of the use of batteries for storing solar energy and supporting traditional electric networks are a huge number.

We are approaching a more circular economic model

Last year, the number of electrified cars worldwide exceeded 3 million for the first time. But this number is only a small part compared to what analysts predict.

Over the next two decades, electric cars are ready to seriously claim the status of the main vehicle. By 2040, it is expected that about 560 million cars will be driven by electrics, which will be equivalent to one third of their total number in the world.

Global battery capacity by 2025 ©


Battery reuse infographics for different vehicles for reuse ©

In such a situation, with a constant increase in volumes, reuse of batteries is the only correct way out. The circular principle of generating income on the same product should be laid in the basis of its production. From now on, automobile companies should not consider the car as the final product of their production, but its battery systems, which, after working out their resources on electric vehicles, should be adapted for use for another purpose and, accordingly, be profitable.

Thus, the reuse of electric car batteries can change the existing automotive and energy market, creating a vicious circle with long-term use of the same product.

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