When Karl Benz invented the Patent Motorwagen in 1885, the way people traveled from one place to another changed forever. With time, cars became a symbol of the elite, with even middle-class people purchasing them as a show of their economic status. Journeys that took days before were now a matter of hours, thanks to the higher speed of automobiles compared to horse- and bullock-drawn carriages. But since these automobiles burn diesel and gasoline, they have led to a huge increase in the amount of pollutants in the air.
As per the International Energy Agency (IEA), the transport sector was responsible for 8.6 Gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 emissions in 2018. This has led to the implementation of stringent emission control and fuel efficiency regulations around the world targeted at vehicles. In another such positive move, electric vehicles (EVs) are being promoted by countries around the world, especially those in Asia, where the air pollution levels are alarmingly high. The IEA says that between 2017 and 2018, the number of electric cars in operation around the globe rose by 63%.
This is one of the major reasons behind the growth of the lithium-ion battery recycling market, which is set to witness a massive 18.3% CAGR during 2020–2030, since generating $165.3 million in 2019. EVs have a battery and electric motor, instead of an internal combustion engine (ICE), for propulsion. Till now, sealed lead–acid (SLA) batteries have been the primary energy source in such automobiles, as they are cheaper and easily available. But now the momentum is shifting in favor of Li-ion batteries, which are lighter, more durable, and can store more energy, thus offering a longer driving range.
Still, APAC is Li-Ion Battery Recycling Powerhouse
Even though research regarding Li-ion battery recycling is concentrated in North America and Europe, Asia-Pacific (APAC) is the global recycling powerhouse, simply because it is the largest EV producer and user on earth. The IEA estimates that 2.3 million electric cars, or 45% of all those in operation around the world, were plying on the roads of China in 2018. In addition, China has commercialized the hydrometallurgy recycling method, which requires less energy and is less capital-intensive than the pyrometallurgy and smelting methods practiced elsewhere on earth.
Thus, as Li-ion battery recycling not only helps reduce battery manufacturing costs, but also protects the environment from the hazards of the mining of the raw materials, this concept is expected to become rapidly popular, especially with the millions being poured in to advance recycling technologies.
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