Many manufacturers are researching how EV batteries can be repurposed once they have hit retirement age. One idea that is proving to work well is repurposing EV batteries to power homes and buildings. However, there are no definitive answers as to what will happen to EV batteries once they’re no longer recyclable.
The time that batteries spend in an EV is often just the beginning of their useful life. Once removed from a car, most batteries will still be fit for other demanding jobs like energy storage in the electricity network, or in the home – a growing area of demand.
When batteries do reach the end of their working life, they'll be recycled, which typically involves separating out valuable materials such as cobalt and lithium salts, stainless steel, copper, aluminium and plastic. At the moment, only about half of the materials in an EV battery pack are recycled, but with EVs expected to undergo an explosion in popularity over the next decade or so, car manufacturers are looking to improve this.
VW recently announced a pilot plant for battery recycling which will work towards a target of recycling 97% of battery components. In this process, batteries will be shredded, dried, then sieved to recover valuable materials that can be used to make new batteries.