09 Apr 2020, 13:53
Sören Amelang

German environment agency calls for increasing e-car recycling capacities

dpa / heise online / Clean Energy Wire

The expected increase in the number of electric cars in Germany requires ramping up recycling capacities both in terms of quantity and quality, according to the country's environment agency (UBA). Current capacities for battery recycling are still sufficient but won't be able to deal with a sharp increase in e-mobility, and the efficiency of recycling processes has to be increased to recover critical raw materials, such as lithium, neodymium and rare earths, from electric motors, UBA expert Axel Strobelt told the newswire dpa in an article carried by heise online. In March, a record number of more than 10,000 new fully electric cars were registered in Germany.

Strobelt proposed a legal redefinition of "recycling" and mandatory rules for separation and recuperation of specific metals so they can be used again, given that current regulations mean that many "recycled" materials from cars and batteries are only reused in an inferior way, for example to fill cavities in mines or to build roads. The environment agency is also concerned about Germany's exports of used cars to other countries where they can cause considerable damage. Strobelt said old lead acid batteries from used cars cause major environmental problems in many developing countries.

Sustainable battery production and recycling methods are also a focus of the European research initiative BATTERY 2030+, according to the initiative's new roadmap that defines future batteries' properties and sets out how to speed up their development, for example by using artificial intelligence in materials research. "The transition to a climate-neutral society requires fundamental changes in the way we generate, use and store energy. High-performance battery storage systems that are sustainable, safe and inexpensive are the goal of BATTERY 2030+," a press release form the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) said, which is part of the international research consortium.

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