As electric cars roll towards the motoring mainstream, companies are gearing up to address one big environmental question: what to do with the lithium-ion batteries used to power them once they run out? The millions of small lithium-ion batteries that are already used in everything from smartphones to electronic toothbrushes consume a lot of resources as it is – about $2bn of metals and minerals in 2015 alone, according to consultancy Roskill. Almost all of them end up in waste dumps or remain in unused gadgets in people’s homes. The batteries used in electric cars are much bigger, last eight to 10 years, and will account for 90 per cent of the lithium-ion battery market by 2025, Roskill forecasts, increasing lithium demand fourfold and more than doubling demand for cobalt – two of their essential elements. The price of cobalt has already risen by more than 80 per cent this year. However, while recycling small lithium-ion batteries is not widespread, a number of companies are hoping it will be different for electric cars and are working on ways to profit from a used car battery bonanza.
FT 3rd Sept 2017 read more »