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Electric car batteries present recycling challenge
While electric cars present a great opportunity for motorists to drastically reduce their impact on the environment on a day-to-day basis, complications can arise when it comes to recycling an electric car's power source, a hulking rechargeable battery.
Sometimes weighing up to 250 kilos, or 550 pounds, electric car batteries can also be the most expensive part of an electric car. And, once they've served their purpose, it can currently be difficult for owners to recycle the formidable power source, according to a report in the New York Times.
The publication also cited data obtained from consultants Frost and Sullivan, which estimated that the number of electric car batteries needing recycling by the 2020s would be 500,000 each year. Initiatives to recycle electric car batteries currently lie at the mercy of the cost to mine component minerals, such as lithium, experts said.
"You can count on a constant and growing thirst for metals including lithium," P Aswin Kumar, a Frost and Sullivan analyst, told the NY Times. "But lithium still costs about five times more to recycle than to mine, so environmental laws will drive recycling for now."
This disparity between the cost of mining component metals and the cost of recycling has driven governments all over the world to launch initiatives to encourage battery recycling.
The British government granted £500,000 to a group of companies seeking to build a recycling plant specifically designed to recycle the spent electric car batteries.
Such facilities are "entirely non-existent in the U.K. at the moment", according to Lawrence Berns, chief executive of Axeon, a car battery manufacturer.