In the first talk released from the Fully Charged USA show, Chelsea Sexton led a panel discussion on the topic of ‘Can batteries really be ethical, recyclable & sustainable?’
The panel included, Vivas Kumar from Benchmark Minerals, Hans-Eric Melin from Circular Energy, Storage Research & Consulting, Marc Kohler from Lithium Works, Zarko Medeldzija, American Manganese, Nicolas Tremblay, Nouveau Monde Graphite.
“We’ve developed a patented process that doesn’t involve smelting the battery down into a black slag an not recovering all the material,” began Zarko Medeldzija, American Manganese CTO. “We use a leaching process that recovers lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminium.”
He went on to explain that even if significant volumes of end-of-life electric vehicle batteries are sent for a second life in alternative applications such as emergency back-up power equipment, there is would still be huge volumes of manufacturing waste to recycle back into new batteries. This, he said, is the “low hanging fruit”.
However, as Hans Eric Melin, founder of the London-based Circular Energy Storage consultancy noted, most lithium-ion batteries are used in smaller devices such as phones, laptops and power tools etc., and recycling has been taking place for many years – although typically not in the West.
Watch the full discussion below.
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