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HomeScienceRevolutionizing Battery Recycling: A Greener Approach at Chalmers University

Revolutionizing Battery Recycling: A Greener Approach at Chalmers University

Charging Towards a Greener Battery Recycling

Hot off the press from Sweden, scientists at the Chalmers University of Technology have innovated a greener and potentially faster and cheaper way to recycle electric vehicle batteries using oxalic acid.

Revving Up for Recyclability

As the world steers towards sustainable transportation, the number of electric vehicles on our roads is skyrocketing. Notably, predictions show this trend in line with the gradual phasing out of fossil-fueled cars. Yet, the manufacturing of EV batteries requires access to sought-after metals. Hence, an efficient, economical, and eco-friendly recycling process for exhausted batteries is the need of the hour to meet increasing demand for these metals.

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According to an EU forecast, the union’s need for lithium by 2050 will be 60 times more than today and 15 times more for cobalt. The researcher from Chalmers, Léa Rouqette, has risen to the challenge, developing a promising technique to almost entirely recycle the material in old EV batteries in an environmentally friendly way.

“We have succeeded in recovering 99% of the lithium and all the aluminum, and other valuable and critical metals such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese.” – Léa Rouqette

A Fresh Brew for Battery Recycling

Interestingly, Léa’s method involves the use of oxalic acid, found naturally in foods like rhubarb and spinach, to separate the metals. The used batteries are ground into a fine powder reminiscent of coffee, which is treated with oxalic acid. The process then echoes brewing a pot of coffee, with the difference being that one wouldn’t recommend drinking this blend of warm acid mixed with aluminum and lithium!

Once the powdered batteries are mixed with oxalic acid and heated to 60 degrees Celsius, the lithium and aluminum are leached out from the powder and dissolved into the liquid. The ingenuity of this process lies in the selective and significant recovery of aluminum and lithium, which traditionally are extracted in later stages, leading to losses.

“The recycling technique using oxalic acid has proven to be scalable, but more research is needed around the other steps.” – Léa Rouqette

The Road Ahead for Battery Recycling

This method, while still at an early stage, shows significant promise for an environmentally friendly solution to battery recycling. The ultimate goal is to separate all the metals for reuse in new batteries effectively. However, it’s a long road ahead, with substantial research and experimentation required.

“There will be much work over the next 4-5 years to fully understand each step,” shared Léa. Further on, the process aims to build new batteries without the need for separating metals, potentially saving a significant amount of money, chemicals, and energy.

As Chalmers University continues to speed up research on this innovative battery recycling method, let’s hope for a future where EVs leave no stone unturned in their quest for sustainability. The road ahead looks promising, filled with opportunities for a green and clean drive!

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