As the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road grows, so will the need for EV battery elements like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. These resources are mostly obtained from two sources:
- freshly mined or
- recovered by recycling existing batteries
Using recycled materials has a lower environmental effect than using new materials, but it needs the resources to have already been harvested, made into a battery, and then retired from usage.
According to research, assuming a large level of battery recycling happens, there are enough explored or probable reserves to electrify the entire transportation industry using present technology. In this scenario, global demand in 2100 will amount to about 55% of cobalt reserves and 50% of lithium reserves.
This is in sharp contrast to a future in which recycling rates are low.
A scarcity of lithium, nickel, or cobalt is unlikely if recycling does not increase, but demand is expected to surpass what is economically available to extract. In this scenario, demand in 2060 exceeds cobalt reserves and almost 90% of lithium reserves.
In other words, in order to meet predicted demand, extraction must expand beyond what is considered economically viable. This decrease in reserves would very certainly boost material prices, causing greater exploration and development and perhaps expanding reserves.
Recycling may significantly reduce the demand for new mining and is a crucial method for achieving sustainable, secure, and economical electricity.
By using recycled instead of newly mined materials, reduction of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions is approximately 64%. Emissions which create smog and impact human health can also be mitigated; sulfur oxides can be reduced by 89% and nitrogen oxides by 78%.
Although there are sufficient resources to manufacture EVs, recycling is required to make them more ecological, ethical, and economical.
The transition from gasoline to electric vehicles gives a great potential for resource efficiency. In contrast to our existing system, in which we continuously extract petroleum and burn it in our cars and trucks, contributing to air pollution and climate change, the minerals needed to construct EVs may be recovered and utilized to support the next generation of clean vehicles.
Reference- Science Direct, Science Advances, Interesting Engineering, Clean Technica, Futurism