China ‘10 years ahead’ of US, Europe on EV battery recycling

China ‘10 years ahead’ of US, Europe on EV battery recycling

China ‘10 years ahead’ of US, Europe on EV battery recycling 827 498 Energy Storage Journal

December 14, 2023: China will become self-sufficient in meeting its needs for key EV battery materials lithium, cobalt and nickel around 10 years before the US and Europe, according to a study published on December 8.

The Asian battery tiger is expected to have the capacity to cater for its domestic demand for lithium from 2059 onwards — but this will not be the case in Europe and the US until after 2070 — says the study by Germany’s University of Münster — A battery value chain independent of primary raw materials: Towards circularity in China, Europe and the US.

For cobalt, recycling is expected to ensure that China will be able to meet its needs after 2045 at the earliest. In Europe the study forecasts this will happen from 2052 but not until 2056 in the US.

In terms of nickel, the study says China could “probably” meet demand through recycling in 2046 at the earliest, followed by Europe in 2058 and the US from 2064.

Researchers says they used a so-called dynamic material flow analysis to calculate both future demand and the recyclable raw materials then available.

The basis the team used consisted of data from current research activities and market forecasts of developments in battery production and sales and the associated demand for raw materials.

Research team head Stephan von Delft told Energy Storage Journal on December 12: “Lithium from primary sources will continue to play an important role, especially in the short-term due to the substantial increase in the demand for EV batteries, but our research suggests that in the long-term it is possible to substitute primary Li sources with secondary sources.”

He said there could be opportunities for Europe to make progress, spurred in part by speeding up electrification in the auto industry.

“The reason is that the faster EVs spread throughout the automotive market, the sooner there will be sufficient quantities of batteries available for recycling.”

Study researcher Jannis Wesselkämper said the demand for raw materials could also be met much earlier by recycling as a result of a reduction in battery size and by avoiding second life batteries in applications such as stationary energy storage.

Photo: China’s BYD rolled out its six millionth new energy vehicle last month.