September 20, 2021

Electric cars: what to do with the batteries?

In less than ten years, the number of electric cars, coaches and trucks has grown from 100,000 to over 10 million. By 2030, that number is expected to soar, with more than 145 million electric cars in circulation.

Battery recycling, a black spot in the environmental footprint

Compared to their thermal cousins, electric cars have a more favorable carbon footprint, provided they ensure the end of life of their batteries.

These contain precious minerals: lithium, cobalt and nickel, among others. However, only 5% of them today find a second life.

In order to extend their lifespan, a data center in Normandy is equipped with old batteries from the car manufacturer Nissan. These are now used to store solar energy and supply the site with electricity.

In Amsterdam, more than 148 batteries are used to meet part of the needs of the football stadium.

‘There is value in these batteries’, emphasizes Grégory Nève, Director of Electric Vehicles at Nissan France. ‘They have an ecological interest, they have an economic interest, and that’s why we do xStorage.’

Exploit the ‘urban mine’ of old batteries

By 2035, Europe should be able to recycle more than 700,000 tonnes of batteries, up from 15,000 today.

The French mining group Eramet is banking on a closed-loop recycling process that would make it possible to remake batteries using the minerals extracted. With the millions of electric vehicles that will soon be driving on European roads, the company wants to exploit this ‘urban mine’.

‘The supply of metals for electric vehicle batteries is a major challenge for the years to come,’ said Nicolas Verdier, Partnerships and Strategy Manager at Eramet. ‘Either we operate primary mines that are mainly outside Europe, or we also manage to capture these volumes and operate this urban mine.’