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Electric-vehicle batteries constitute the enfant terrible of modern mobility.
                                              They are energy-intensive to manufacture, have a limited range and
                                              require rare and expensive raw materials to produce. Now, however,
                                              new advances in recycling lithium-ion storage batteries are emerging
                                              as a cornerstone of sustainable electric mobility. This is a lucrative line
                                              of business for recycling companies and OEMs that would otherwise
                                              have to shred their batteries no later than their second-life use.

                                              ELECTRIC-VEHICLE                  and lithium, nickel and cobalt in partic-
                                              BATTERIES WITH A HANDICAP         ular for batteries – the latter metallic,
                                                                                blue-gray shimmering material proving
                                              Electric mobility in its purest form is   the greatest concern for the electric
                                              considered progressive. When charged   mobility sector. While it is possible to do
                                              using renewable energy, a battery-elec-  without cobalt, it is key in improving the
                                              tric vehicle operates fully emission-free   performance of cathodes – the negatively
                                              – at least from the well-to-wheel per-  charged electrodes in a lithium-ion bat-
                                              spective. Moreover, if range and charging   tery – by several orders of magnitude
                                              time can be acceptably optimized in the   in terms of rated voltage and energy
                                              near future, the electrically powered car   density. However, both properties come
                                              will be a suitable replacement for mobil-  at a hefty price.
                                              ity centered on the combustion engine.
                                              Even so, there are undeniable deficien-  LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES CENTRAL
                                              cies that give it a handicap compared to   TO VALUE CREATION
                                              more established powertrains – a short-
                                              coming exacerbated all the more given   If you were to strip down the current
                                              the rarity of the raw materials that only   BMW i3, you would find almost 12 kg
                                              electric mobility requires.       of cobalt in the 33-kWh battery alone.
                                                Unlike conventional vehicles, electric   Not to mention another 6 kg of lithium,
                                              vehicles require – above all – more    12 kg of manganese, 12 kg of nickel and
                                              special metals in their powertrain, for   35 kg of graphite, according to well-in-
                                              example rare earths for electric motors   formed sources. Although the raw mate-

                                        © Wolfram Schroll | Duesenfeld

                                              (© Andreas Burkert)
            ATZ worldwide  09|2018            Rare earth metals, cobalt, nickel, manganese and lithium are the ingredients of electric mobility    11
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