Cobalt, Lithium and other key materials will be reused
Sumitomo Metals is the company behind this method
A recycling factory should open in 2023 with a capacity sufficient to provide batteries for 20,000 EVs a year
Recycling the batteries from electric vehicles is a process that is still not entirely perfected, but a company in Japan is confident its new method will allow it to efficiently reuse most of the materials from used batteries.
Sumitomo Metal Mining is a Japanese company that specialises in refining copper, a skill that will be put to profit in this new operation.
In order to recycle the raw metals used in batteries, the company will crush the batteries and then heat the resulting powder to specific temperatures. By modifying the levels of oxygen present in the reaction, the different metals will be able to be separated.
This is reportedly the first time such a process will be used in the world and it will allow for the recovery of copper, nickel, cobalt and other rare metals.
Sumitomo plans to open a factory in its home country in 2023 that will have the capacity to process 7,000 tons of crushed batteries every year, which should yield around 200 tons of cobalt, enough to create new batteries for 20,000 electric vehicles.
Other companies are working on their own way to recycle batteries, but this method is reportedly more cost efficient, meaning that it could still be competitive if mined lithium prices drop to around $5-$6 per kilogram.
The demand for EVs has pushed lithium prices to new heights, at $30 per kilogram and cobalt increased in price by about 80%, now reaching $60,000 per ton.
This method could not only reduce the pollution created by mining rare metals, but also lower the costs of electric vehicles, thus leader to a more widespread adoption of electric power.