Saturday, July 13, 2024

Study Identifies Key Strategies for Circular Economy in EV Battery Recycling in Europe

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Experts from the University of Münster, along with other institutions, have conducted a groundbreaking study to determine future degradation and recycling volumes for electric vehicle (EV) battery materials necessary to sustain a circular economy in Europe. This study has led to actionable recommendations.

Led by industrial chemist Prof. Dr. Stephan von Delft from the University of Münster, a team of stakeholders from academia, the automotive sector, and the battery industry examined the impact of more efficient and sustainable recycling strategies on future material demand in Europe. The study focused on key battery raw materials: lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Their findings were recently published under the title “Towards circular battery supply chains: Strategies to reduce material demand and the impact on mining and recycling” in the journal Resources Policy.

Analyzing the period from 2035 to 2040, the researchers concluded that a combination of different strategies could potentially save ten mines and 55 recycling plants, reducing emissions and resulting in financial savings of €32 billion. Optimizing recycling and reducing demand for lithium, cobalt, and nickel could save 32.5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, according to the University of Münster.

The study’s recommendations include accelerating the electrification of the automotive market, developing smaller batteries, employing “technology-selective” second-life use of EV batteries in stationary energy storage systems, and increasing the use of LFP (lithium iron phosphate) batteries in electric vehicles.

“The results are important for European policy-making as they provide recommendations for action on how policies can support the transition, increase security of supplies for raw materials, and strengthen the EU’s strategic autonomy,” said Stephan von Delft.

Methodologically, the study utilized a dynamic material flow analysis to project future demand for lithium, cobalt, and nickel, as well as the availability of recyclable raw materials. This analysis was based on current research and market forecasts related to the development of battery production and sales, and the associated demand for raw materials.

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