Battery & Solar Recycling Marches On In March

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Lithium battery recycling is an important part of protecting the environment, as it can reduce the amount of raw materials used to create new batteries and decrease the amount of waste generated by disposable lithium-ion batteries. Recycling lithium-ion batteries not only helps conserve resources (and the emissions that come with obtaining those resources), but also reduces energy consumption associated with producing new batteries and minimizes potential hazards associated with improper disposal.

There’s also economic reasons to embrace recycling. Through proper recycling methods, valuable metals from discarded lithium batteries can be safely reused in new products, potentially at a lower cost in the future.

All of this makes not only EVs, but home energy storage and everything else that relies on batteries, a lot more impactful in the fight to rein in climate change.

On top of battery recycling, there are also important questions about how we reach a more circular economy for other things like wind turbines, solar panels, and everything else that the anti-renewable crowd thinks is a “gotcha” or “checkmate, libz” story. We need to be looking at those, too.

At CleanTechnica Galactic HQ, we’ve been looking at several of these stories over the course of the month so far, and alone they’re not that interesting. But, when taken together, they add up to an important continuing story for battery and solar recycling. Who knows? They may even be part of the most important recycling story in the universe (that we know of).

But seriously, let’s zoom in on a few of these recycling stories and see how they feed into the bigger picture here.

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A Video Shows Us How Solar Recycling Fits Into Solar Farm Operations

One of these stories came in the form of a video:

In it, we learn about how Silicon Ranch (a solar producer) and SOLARCYCLE work together to get the most out of failed panels. While most solar panels last a long time, they can’t all produce energy as long as they should have. The earliest solar cells are actually still in use generating electricity, but the few that fail have given industry an opportunity to get experience getting precious materials out of failed panels instead of getting them from mining and refining operations.

What’s great is that they’re recovering about 95% of the materials that went into the original panel, so this is a very viable way to get things going in a more circular direction.

Another great thing we learn from this video is that not all failed panels need to be ground down and put through a recycling process. Often, the failed panel had something relatively small wrong with it and they can be repaired and put back into production making electricity. SOLARCYCLE starts its process out triaging the incoming panels and getting these out of the recycling chain.

Lithium Successfully Removed From Black Mass By More Efficient Process

Electra Battery Materials Corporation is leading the way in EV battery supply chain innovation with its successful black mass recycling trial north of Toronto. The trial not only recovered lithium — a critical mineral for electric vehicle batteries — but also produced a technical-grade lithium carbonate product, proving the effectiveness of Electra’s proprietary hydrometallurgical process. This milestone marks a significant step forward for Electra’s refinery complex, which will play an important role in producing lithium and other minerals needed for EV battery production on a large scale.

“Recovering lithium from black mass represents a potential game changer for Electra and the North American EV supply chain,” said Trent Mell, CEO of Electra Battery Materials. “Recycling lithium from expired batteries through hydrometallurgy lowers the carbon footprint of manufacturing electric vehicles and represents an important source of future supply for a commodity whose demand is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. From Electra’s perspective, it considerably strengthens the economics of our battery recycling strategy by providing another high-value product we can sell.”

Black mass is the industry term used for the material that remains after expired lithium-ion batteries are shredded and all casing removed. It contains valuable elements such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, copper, and graphite that can be recycled in order to produce new lithium-ion batteries. By recycling these materials, producers of electric vehicles can minimize their environmental impact while creating new batteries with high performance ratings. Recycling black mass also helps conserve resources and reduce energy consumption associated with conventional battery production methods.

Established North American battery recyclers have traditionally used pyrometallurgical smelting processes to treat black mass, but these methods have high carbon footprints and lower metal recovery rates than hydrometallurgical techniques.

Electra Battery Materials Corporation is ahead of the curve with its demonstration plant that has successfully extracted lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, copper, and graphite from black mass in batch mode. This breakthrough marks an important step towards a more sustainable EV battery supply chain as the demand for critical minerals continues to grow in tandem with the looming supply deficit of metals like nickel and cobalt. According to data from McKinsey & Company, available battery material for recycling is projected to increase by 20% each year up until 2040, so there will be plenty of materials to process.

New Recycling Plant In Texas

Green Giant Inc. and ACE Green Recycling Inc. have recently announced a strategic partnership to construct a commercial lithium-ion battery recycling plant near Houston, Texas. This joint venture marks a major milestone for sustainable battery recycling in North America, as it is expected to increase resource efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and minimize the environmental impact of conventional battery production methods.

Green Giant Energy Texas Inc. (GGE Texas) has partnered with ACE Green Recycling Inc. to form a joint venture that will construct a commercial lithium-ion battery recycling plant near Houston, Texas. GGE Texas will purchase the land to build the facility and provide a $3 million investment for its development and operation. The plant will use ACE’s proprietary technology and process for sustainably recycling battery materials and is estimated to be able to recycle 1,800 metric tons of lithium batteries each year.

“Our partnership with ACE furthers our goal of investing in, developing and servicing green energy projects that provide solutions to clean energy transition challenges.” said GGE Texas CEO Junaid Ali. “The development of a sustainable lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Houston will not only advance circularity of battery materials in the U.S. but will also create positive economic growth for this market.”

Featured Image: A screenshot from the video embedded in this article.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba