Research on recycling of lithium batteries from, among other things, electric cars and portable electronics has grown as we approach a fossil-free and electrified society. Metals and minerals that are necessary for the batteries will sooner or later end. Cobalt, for example, which is one of the most common substances in the batteries, is now expected to reach its production peak around 2025. Cobalt is also considered by many to be a so-called conflict mineral where human rights are often violated in connection with mining in the form of child labour and slavery.
"This is a very critical issue where it is crucial that we find a solution soon. Sustainable cobalt supply and recovery is crucial to the electric car's existence, "says Assistant Professor Martina Petranikova
, organiser of the conference.
However, there are more areas in the battery life cycle that hold them back in terms of durability. Among other things, electric cars, when consumed, still have so much energy that recycling can be dangerous. In addition, electric vehicle batteries may vary so much between manufacturers that it is difficult for the recycler to know what the battery contains. At the same time, it is a competitive advantage for the companies to develop new assemblies on the batteries and thus the producers have to talk to the recyclers in order to find a right design
"The industry is very interested in finding the right recycling technology. Among other things, they are obliged to take care of the waste from their products, such as used batteries. With different combinations of batteries, they are very difficult to recycle industrially. Today we can recover most of a battery, but it takes time and is costly. With the conference, we want to meet and solve these problems, "said Martina Petranikova.
In order to find a sustainable solution, the entire battery life cycle must be coordinated from production and development to collection and recycling, as well as legislation. Therefore, Chalmers researchers in industrial recycling gather researchers, experts, manufacturers, users and recyclers under the same roof to share their knowledge, their expectations, technical and financial realities, and also their dreams to take the initiative for a circular economy of batteries .
The Circular Economy of Batteries Production and Recycling, CEB, will be held at Lindholmen Conference Center 24-26 September 2018.