Insight: Why Lithium Batteries Need to be Recycled

Segment(s): Commercial, Industrial, Telecom

Why Lithium Batteries Need to be Recycled

Why Lithium Batteries Need to be Recycled

Polarium is taking the necessary steps towards a circular battery industry.

Global demand for lithium batteries is expected to grow by 25 percent every year to 2030. To secure the long-term supply of critical battery minerals, lithium batteries need to be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Through its recycling program, Polarium is taking the necessary steps towards a circular battery industry.

Global demand for lithium-ion batteries is expected to grow by 25 percent every year to reach 2,600 GWh in 2030.[1] This trend is driven by the fact that lithium batteries are a core technology in the transition to a sustainable future. Batteries are at the heart of decarbonizing the transport sector through electrification and are enabling the shift from fossil fuel to renewable power generation as a dispatchable source of electricity.

However, growing demand ramps up to a new challenge: to secure supply of vital metals such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese. Although studies estimate that there are more than 80 million tons of lithium resources worldwide,[2] indicating that there is no risk for supply shortage in the short term, recycling is necessary for lithium batteries to be a sustainable and commercially viable solution in the long term.[3]

Polarium offers a recycling program to all its customers, ranging from telecom companies to commercial and industrial facilities, to secure the long-term supply of lithium and other crucial battery minerals.

“As a company that builds our business on lithium technology, we must ensure that our business model is circular – both from a commercial and a sustainability perspective. Therefore, we are continuously developing our recycling program in partnership with companies such as Northvolt,” says Stefan Jansson, founder and CEO of Polarium.

To close the loop, energy storage solutions must go through different processes. After the battery’s lifecycle, the energy storage solution must be collected and discharged, and then transported to a recycling facility. There, the battery can be dismantled, and all the components recycled. With the best recycling technologies available, up to 95% of the batteries can be effectively recycled, and up to 90% of the metals nickel, manganese, and cobalt can be recovered for reuse. Continuous progress is also being made in the recovery rate of lithium, and now the vast majority of the metal can be reused.

Recycling is, however, not enough to implement a fully circular business model. Another important aspect is to invest in research and development to prolong battery lifetime, a field in which Polarium aims to lead the way.

“Our energy storages solutions are high-quality, long-lasting, and recyclable. They last up to 20 years or 6,000 cycles, and due to the embedded intelligence of our batteries, we always know their state of charge and health, and so when it is time to replace them,” Stefan Jansson says.

 

[1]A Vision for a Sustainable Battery Value Chain 2030 (September 2019)

[2]U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries (January 2020)

[3]Assessment of lithium criticality in the global energy transition and addressing policy gaps in transportation (September 2020)

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