TL: DR Recycled material batteries performed as well as and even better than new material batteries.
Does anyone else like to read scientific studies once they’re published on the Interwebs? I know I’m not the only one. After reading the article recently about the proliferation of renewal power sources, it was delightful to find a study that addressed one of the specific points that some of our readers pointed to as an issue without a solution. At least for now.
Today’s study is from the Worchester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. The WPI team used spent batteries and separated nickel, manganese, cobalt to be used in the recycled cathode material. The team utilized an acidic bath and removed impurities like iron and copper. WPI reported that we were able to recover about 90% from the recycled batteries.
The rubber meets the road in their data. The new material batteries had 7,600 cycles before they lost 30 percent of their initial capacity. The recycled material batteries came in at 11,600 charging cycles before the same level of loss occurred, about 50% more cycles. Imagine recycled-chemical components in “new” EV batteries that are extending the overall life of the batteries.
That is definitely one of the criticisms of EVs. “What are you going to do when the battery doesn’t charge all the way up? Spend thousands to replace it.” What if the batteries lasted 50% longer? Maybe you are looking at the next new EV by then.
It is only one study. But that’s the best part of the scientific community. By publishing, now another team will try to duplicate their results or completely debunk them. The truly best part is that these findings don’t apply to only electric vehicles. You can apply the same tech to smartphones and other electronic devices that are all running on lithium-ion batteries. This is not an answer to all of our questions, but it is yet another step towards a future that might actually be a little brighter without mortgaging all of our futures and those of future generations.