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What happens to the battery?

The battery is a key element for in the future viability of the electric vehicle; not only for its range and the costs, but also for the overall ecological impact. The lithium-ion battery is currently the most widely used type. Rapid technological development contributes to the huge cost reductions and the higher energy density of the batteries. Compared to other technologies, the lithium-ion batteries contain less hazardous waste, such as cadmium or lead. However, it is clear that bigger batteries with a greater performance also lead to an increased demand for resources, and that efficiency will be decisive for technology development and use.

The life expectancy of lithium-ion batteries is minimum 10 years or around 4,000 charging cycles. However, according to the manufacturers, the batteries used today last much longer and are designed for 150,000 km or 15 years. In fact, the batteries are proving very resistant. The available battery capacity also decreases only very little over time, so that the battery can be used in a sustainable manner for storage purposes after its deployment in the EV (“Second Life“). It can be used, for example, as a stationary interim storage in a building to buffer energy. Finally, the majority of resources can be recycled. High recycling rates for lithium-ion batteries are technically possible; due to current low demand, to date only a few recycling facilities exist. The EU demands a recycling quota of 50% in a first step, based on the battery weight.

(8) E. Rahimzei (VDE Verband der Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik e. V.): Begleit- und Wirkungsforschung Schaufenster Elektromobilität (BuW) Ergebnispapier Nr. 37, Sicherheit von Elektrofahrzeugen, Berlin 2017