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Recycling and secondary utilization of lithium batteries for electric vehicles will improve energy and environmental benefits

  Today, the development of electric vehicles is accelerating around the world, and more and more car companies are starting to switch from fuel vehicles to electric vehicles. It is understood that many car manufacturers have indicated that they will stop selling traditional fuel vehicles after 2025.
  Unlike fuel vehicles, electric vehicles are generally powered by lithium batteries (LIBs). With the popularity of electric vehicles, the use of lithium batteries will increase.
  This also has a consequence, that is, discarded lithium batteries are becoming more and more.
  Recently, Cornell University has conducted research on the recycling of lithium-ion batteries and published it in Science Advances with the title “Second Life and Recycling: Perspectives on Energy and Environmental Sustainability of High-Performance Li-ion Batteries”.
  ”Electric vehicle batteries typically have a life span of 5 to 12 years, and how to deal with these expired batteries is a big problem,” said Yu Minezaki, a professor of energy systems engineering at Cornell University’s School of Engineering and one of the authors of the study. , there has been little discussion about improving lithium battery designs for recycling.”
  Building on previous lithium battery life cycle studies, the study more comprehensively assesses how different lithium battery types are utilized and recycled to the environment and The effects of energy and the relationship between them.
  The study found that secondary use of lithium batteries for electric vehicles that have expired, such as power storage systems for power grids, can reduce carbon footprints by 8% to 17% and energy demand by 2% to 6%. Nowadays, environmental problems are becoming more and more serious, and all countries are working towards “carbon neutrality”. Lithium batteries are recognized as green and environmentally friendly batteries, and their good use will also help to achieve this goal.
  You Fengzaki mentioned that over time, the capacity and performance of lithium batteries will decline. But this does not mean that the battery capacity of the lithium battery for electric vehicles will become zero after the warranty period.
  In fact, electric vehicles have high requirements on battery performance. Lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles that have reached the service life can usually maintain 80% of the battery capacity. Although they are no longer suitable for use in electric vehicle scenarios that require high battery performance, they can be used It is used in relatively mild usage scenarios, such as power grid peak regulation and frequency regulation, peak shaving and valley filling, wind and solar energy storage and other energy storage fields.

  You Fengzaki further said that by dismantling, reorganizing and testing the “retired” lithium batteries for electric vehicles, they can be reused or even reused multiple times before final recycling.
  During the specific research process, You Fengzaki’s team compiled a list of inputs and outputs for the full life cycle of lithium batteries based on relevant information, and then used three impact assessment methods, namely carbon footprint, energy consumption, and methods for classifying various environmental issues. To assess the different impacts on the environment of lithium battery production, use and recycling throughout the life cycle. Finally, they also put forward strategic recommendations for R&D and commercialization based on energy and environmental benefit results and carbon reduction and environmental protection goals.
  During the research process, the team also found that the production, use and recycling of lithium batteries involves various aspects such as technology, environment, economy, energy, and resource reserves. As the core power generation unit of new energy vehicles and one of the most competitive energy storage technologies for power regulation, lithium batteries can be said to occupy an important position in the country’s energy development strategy.
  In addition, the study also pointed out several environmental hotspots in the life cycle of high-performance lithium batteries, and discussed feasible measures, advantages and disadvantages to further improve the environmental and energy performance of lithium batteries. Among them, the importance of designing lithium batteries with the concept of easy recycling and improving recycling environmental benefits is emphasized.
  You Fengzaki specifically pointed out that in the design and development of battery material technology, the recycling performance should be taken into account, such as reducing the use of materials that are harmful to the environment during the recycling process, or considering related alternative materials, and listed the lithium batteries that can further improve high performance. Suggestions on battery environmental protection, including increasing the proportion of renewable energy in the grid energy structure, sorting and recycling waste batteries, reducing the use of aluminum, and recycling or replacing graphite cathodes.

  As the demand for lithium batteries increases, the demand for key materials such as lithium and cobalt in lithium batteries will also increase. It is understood that from 2018 to 2030, the global demand for lithium and cobalt is expected to increase by about 10 times, which poses a challenge to the stability of the supply chain.
  ”Most recycling facilities today have difficulty recycling the raw materials inside car batteries,” said Yanqi Tao, another author of the study. “Policymakers should consider how to incentivize recycling technologies to optimize battery sustainability.
  ” It is believed that if the separation of the commonly used cathode active material graphite or emerging recycling methods can be promoted, the impact on the environment will be further reduced.” Tao Yanqiu also said.
  The research has guiding significance for the design, production, use and recycling of lithium batteries in the future. Although the main focus is on the energy and environmental benefits of lithium batteries, You Fengzaki and others still hope to analyze and view the use and recycling of lithium batteries from a more comprehensive perspective, so as to provide certain reference for transportation, electricity, energy and other fields.
  Regarding the next research plan, Yu Minezaki said: “In the next step, we plan to consider some new battery materials and technologies, as well as their corresponding energy, environmental and economic impacts. In addition, we also plan to expand the research goals to Different energy storage systems, and forecasting and environmental economic dispatch planning for medium and long-term energy storage.”

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