When switching to electric, it’s important to understand the different types of electric car batteries available. Not only is it the heart of the EV, but the battery will also greatly impact factors like range and charging time. There are different types of car batteries in the market. That’s why it’s important to be familiar with them before buying an electric car. This guide will introduce the four types of batteries, explain how each type works and how to recycle them properly.
Types of Electric Car Batteries
There are four main types of electric car batteries: Lead-acid, Nickel-metal-hydride, Ultraceptors, and Lithium-ion.
Lead-acid batteries are the oldest type of electric car battery and are usually the cheapest. However, these batteries are designed to be high-power, safe, and reliable. Unfortunately, poor performance in cold temperatures, low specific energy, and short lifecycle hampers their appeal in today’s standards of electric vehicles.
However, advanced high-power lead-acid batteries are currently under development that can hopefully correct all of the flaws this type of battery possesses. Currently, lead-acid batteries are only used in commercially available EVs for ancillary loads.
Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries are an improvement over lead-acid batteries. These types of batteries are commonly used in medical and computer equipment and electric vehicles. Nickel-metal-hydride batteries offer reasonable energy and stable power capabilities.
NiMH batteries have a longer lifecycle than traditional lead-acid batteries and are safer to use. They are also abuse-tolerant and can withstand multiple overcharging and deep discharging. However, NiMH batteries are more expensive to manufacture than lead-acid batteries.
Nickel-metal-hydride is currently a widely used battery option for HEVs. The main challenge with this type of EV battery is its high cost, high self-discharge, and heat generation in high-temperature areas. There’s also the need to control hydrogen loss to prevent capacity fade.
Lithium-ion batteries are currently the most popular and widely used option for EV batteries. That’s because these types of batteries offer the best performance in electric cars. Lithium-ion batteries have high specific energy, which means they can store much energy in a small space. They also have a high power density, which can discharge stored energy quickly.
In addition, lithium-ion batteries have a high power-to-weight ratio, high energy efficiency, stable performance even in high temperatures, and low self-discharge. These qualities offset all of its disadvantages, including high cost, safety concerns, and capacity fade with cycling. Most of all, lithium-ion batteries are recyclable, making them a more sustainable option in the long run.
The last type of electric car battery is the ultracapacitor. Ultracapacitors are electric double-layer capacitors with a high power density and specific energy. They store energy in a polarized liquid between an electrode and an electrolyte—the energy capacity increases as the liquid’s surface area increases.
Ultracapacitors have several advantages over batteries. They can be charged and discharged very rapidly, they’re resistant to extreme temperatures, and they have a long lifespan. However, ultracapacitors have low specific energy compared to batteries. This means they can’t store as much energy in a given space.
Ultracapacitors have a long lifecycle and are tolerant of abuse. However, they have a low energy density, so they can’t store as much energy as batteries.
How to Recycle Electric Car Batteries
Since EVs are relatively new to the US automotive market, only a small number have approached the end of their life cycle. However, as electric vehicles become increasingly mainstream, the market and opportunities for battery-recycling programs will grow.
Battery recycling would keep hazardous materials from entering the environment and conserve the valuable metals used in electric car batteries. In addition, the material recovery from recycling electric car batteries could provide a new revenue stream for EV battery manufacturers, electric utilities, and the recycling industry.
Remember that not all EV car battery recycling processes are the same. Battery recycling will also require different separation methods for proper recycling and material recovery. These processes are the following:
Smelting is a process where the battery recycler melts down the metals in the electric car battery to recover valuable metals like cobalt, nickel, and lithium. This process is now operational on a large scale and can accept multiple kinds of batteries, including nickel-metal-hydride and lithium-ion batteries.
Smelting occurs at high temperatures where the metals are melted down to be separated. The recovered metals are then sent to refining so that the product is suitable for any use. While effective, smelting produces harmful emissions that must be properly managed.
Some recycling processes involve directly recovering battery-grade materials from used electric car batteries. In this process, components are separated using a variety of physical and chemical processes. At the end of the process, all active materials and metals can be recovered and used to create new electric car batteries.
This process is seen as more sustainable because it doesn’t involve the use of high temperatures or harmful chemicals. It also doesn’t produce any emissions. However, this process is more expensive and requires specialized equipment that not all battery recyclers have.
The third and final type of EV-recycling process sits right between the two extremes. Intermediate processes tend to accept multiple kinds of batteries, unlike direct recovery. However, it recovers materials further along the production chain, unlike smelting.
This means that the electric car battery is first dismantled, then the cells are crushed and sorted by chemical and physical processes. The final stage of this process is to extract metals using a hydrometallurgical process.
This method is more expensive than smelting, but it doesn’t produce the harmful emissions that smelting does.
Why Use DATAMYTE?
With all of the potential batteries up for recycling in the future, venturing into this business opportunity might sound like a great idea. However, before starting your EV-battery recycling center, it’s important to have a workflow that will guide your operations and ensure that you adhere to best practices.
That’s where DATAMYTE comes in. The DataMyte Digital Clipboard is DATAMYTE’s workflow automation software, capable of creating workflows for different purposes—including EV battery recycling. With the DataMyte Digital Clipboard, you can create multiple workflows to reinforce your business operations further and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your electric car battery recycling center.
The DataMyte Digital Clipboard also has an EV checklist that you can customize and turn into an EV-battery recycling checklist. This tool will help further optimize your electric car battery recycling workflow and ensure you’re not missing any steps.
If you’re interested in learning more about how DATAMYTE can help you with electric car battery recycling, schedule a demo with us today. We’ll be happy to show you how our workflow automation software can help take your electric car battery recycling center to the next level.`
Electric battery recycling is an important process that will help sustain the electric car industry. At the same time, it’s also looking like a viable business venture in the future. Use this article as a reference if you’re trying to review the different types of EV batteries and how to recycle them. That way, you can decide which electric car battery recycling process is best for you.