WMG, part of the HVM Catapult, recently published a report outlining the potential opportunity for Automotive Lithium ion Battery Recycling in the UK. The report, which was supported by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), outlines the value of the opportunity and makes recommendations to ensure a viable and sustainable battery recycling industry in the UK.

Automotive Lithium ion battery recycling process

Accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles is a key element of the Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 68% by 2030. The UK’s EV market is growing rapidly, with EV registrations increasing by approximately 173% from 2019 to 2020. Our ability to grow this industry and capitalise on its potential both environmentally and economically hinges on the successful widespread adoption of EVs.

If we are to introduce EVs, we need to think about what happens to the battery when it reaches the end of its “useful life” powering the vehicle. Batteries often retain up to 80% of their energy capacity and power after this automotive “lifespan”, and they form useful energy resources for ‘second life’ applications, such as stationary energy storage for domestic and industrial use.

Projections are that there will be approximately 1.4 million EV battery packs coming to the end of their “useful life” every year by 2040. This will mean that 203,000 tonnes of batteries will require recycling annually (based on a 60% recycling rate) by that point.

The UK currently lacks industrial capacity for lithium ion battery recycling, meaning that there is a costly reliance on mainland Europe when supplying batteries for material recovery after their “useful life”. With the average value of materials contained in an end-of-life automotive pack in 2018 being £1,200 for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and £260 for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), there is a huge opportunity in the UK to recycle lithium ion batteries.

Several initiatives have started to address the issue of automotive battery recycling. To learn more, read the full report.

Read more in HVM Connect Issue 10 NOW