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Retired Li-ion Batteries from Electric Buses: Can They Be Green?

2020-04-09

Growing popularity of electric vehicles is driving the global demand for lithium batteries, in order to meet global targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to improve air quality in urban centres and to meet the needs of consumers, with whom electric vehicles are increasingly popular. However, there are some concerns about the recycling process of lithium-ion batteries when the batteries reach the end of their lives in electric vehicles. Can lithium-ion batteries be recycled?  

With the rapid development of electric vehicle industry in China, Shenzhen is the first city in China to realize fully electric bus service. Recently, according to the information from MIIT in China, the first batches of batteries from electric buses are hitting retirement age. The recycling and disposal of the first batch of retired batteries which have been used for more than 200 new energy electric buses has started. Over 700 tons of retired battery has been put into recycling.

For many types of rechargeable batteries, lithium-ion batteries are gaining popularity because they provide more energy than other types of rechargeable batteries. So what happen when lithium-ion batteriescome to an end their life? 

Can Lithium-ion Batteries be Recycled?

Yes, the practice of processing and assembling lithium-ion batteries is much greener than fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel. It is more eco-friendly and have less harmful impact on the environment when supplying power. The material of lithium-ion batteries is less toxic which makes them easier to recycle. However, lithium is a highly reactive element that may cause fire or other safe problems if disposing improperly.


Is Lithium-ion Batteries Eco-friendly?

The eco-friendly way for most batteries is recycling. For lithium-ion batteries, it has a longer lifespan than the other batteries. UFO Batteries, for example, last up to 10 times longer than lead-acid battries due to their efficiency which means that less replacement are needed for power machinery. Therefore, there is less batteries need to recycle every year and also the battery can be re-used for other applications or most of the material of the battery are valuable to be recycled in an environmental friendly way.          

How to Dispose Lithium-ion Battery?

A lot of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles can collect and discharge electricity for another few years after being taken off the roads. By professional analysis and comprehensive evaluation on the battery safety and remaining life of retired bateries, the retired batteries are carried out classified utilization in order to optimize the recycling value of battery. Some retired batteries are redesigned and developed as second life batteries which can be applied for energy storage system, telecommunication base station, solar street lights and other applications that have less requirement for motive power. For those retired batteries which do not have a second life, the valuable metals such as anode material, copper, aluminnum are seperated efficiently by physical decomposition methodologies.

                 
                 

Although the technology for the end product are not perfectly green, it is still a eco-friendly lithium-ion battery for power which represents a promising step towards a greener and more sustainable world.


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