United Effort: Recycling not the sole solution to sourcing EV battery materials, researchers claim

Toronto, Ontario — A paper from a team of U.S.-based researchers claims that a more robust electric vehicle battery recycling infrastructure will be the key to keeping automakers stocked with the necessary precious metals.

Dr. Linda Gaines of the Argonne National Laboratory, alongside her four co-authors, put forth a research paper asserting that the U.S. does not currently have enough nickel or cobalt to support even a single year of solely domestic EV production, but that some hope may lay in the recycling sector.

As it stands, about 54 percent of end-of-life EV batteries wind up in an auto recycling yard, though only about ten percent of those yards are in the U.S., while the rest are in China, according to data cited from 2019.

The recycling industry is not the magic bullet to sourcing EV battery materials, however, as the paper points out that end-of-life batteries “will not make a significant contribution to the overall U.S. battery material supply until well into the 2030s because of the long product lifetime and rapid demand growth for the dominant products,” read an excerpt from the paper.

“We will still need raw material extraction, imports, and/or substitution of alternative materials.”

The research paper “Tracking Flows of End-of-Life Battery Materials and Manufacturing Scrap” is publicly available and can be accessed here.

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