By Charley Grimston, MD of Altelium

The inaugural World EV Day on Weds 9 September is a great opportunity to celebrate how the EV is the cornerstone of the world’s transition to a sustainable energy circular economy.

At the heart of the EV is the battery. Lithium ion batteries have finally given man a power source

EV Battery recycling is coming
Tesla battery cells

which can be used thousands of times in its first life, then thousands more in its second life before being recycled to do it again – many times. Although there are still emissions from mineral extraction and manufacturing, there are no operational emissions. This means that EVs are helping us to breather easier in our cities and are helping us to live longer and healthier lives.

It’s estimated there are around 1.2 billion vehicles on the road in the world, and in Great Britain alone there are 38.4 million licensed vehicles on the road. The sooner we switch to electric vehicles and take traditional diesel or petrol cars out of use the better.

Environmental implications

But while celebrating the EV today we must also use the day to think about how we enable the rest of the new circular economy to ensure we get the most out of both the environmental and economic opportunities created by these new technologies.

The key ingredients in an EV battery, including lithium and cobalt, are hard to mine, and come via a challenging supply chain.  Happily, they are not consumed when either storing or releasing energy unlike fossil fuels. However, their performance is slowly degraded, so we must seek to understand this process and maximise performance and utility in their first and second lives, before recycling them for a further generation of uses back at their peak performance. This creates a circular economy which is about to get dramatically larger and more exciting.

Build on rock-solid data 

Data is fundamental to achieving this.  Our company, Altelium is working with diverse stakeholders to ensure that data flows to where it is needed to unlock the potential of this new economy, while respecting and protecting the commercial interests of each link in the supply chain. While each stage in the lifecycle helps the planet, it also creates value. Data is the glue that holds it together. We collect this data and uses its expertise to turn it into the useful information. This underpins Altelium’s warranty and insurance products which facilitate the finance, confidence and value of all the products and businesses in each part of this circular economy.

In order to use the battery from EVs in second life situations, it is essential to know its state of health (SOH) and the performance history of the individual battery cell.  Armed with accurate data from the cells we are able to identify the healthiest ones and use them in applications such as stationary storage.  Data will also ensure that any cells not fit for second life uses can be processed as part of an efficient recycling system. These systems are being developed by many interested parties worldwide, targeting at least a 95% recovery and reuse of materials. 

So let’s use today as a rallying call to share data and build our new EV car industry around the data which will help us prosper as we develop the energy circular economy.  

Published by Greg Whitaker

Editor of CAT Magazine and an experienced motoring journalist @GregWhitaker5

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