The launch of modern— and increasingly lower-priced EV lithium-ion batteries— is likely to hamper moves to encourage recycling, a battery expert has warned.
Mike Fetcenko, MD of BASF Battery Materials North America, said at last week’s International Battery Seminar and Exhibit in Florida: “The economics of recycling for lithium are not mature and they have to become more so.”
“As the cost of the batteries fall, you have to ask whether what you spend on getting the metals back out is worth it or not,” Fetcenko said. “Right now, the economic practicality of recycling lithium-ion batteries is very difficult.”
Fetcenko said that while countries might enact legislation to enforce the recycling of lithium-ion products— the key question was “how quickly does recycling become economically attractive”
And he drew a contrast with the lead industry, where “99% of lead batteries are recycled”.
Despite strides towards increasing use of lithium, Fetcenko urged everyone to “keep respect for lead-acid as well”. “The dominant rechargeable battery technology is still lead-acid and it does many things very well, except weight and cycle life under high depths of discharge.”
“Lead is not going anywhere anytime soon, despite lithium being the chemistry of choice for plug in electric vehicles,” Fetcenko said.