One of the largest misconceptions of electric cars is that the world will suddenly be inundated with toxic batteries that will seep into ground water, kill your dog, and practically ruin your marriage. Fortunately, battery recycling for green vehicles has been well planned out — even if there currently aren’t many electric-powered cars on the road to be concerned about. Showing us exactly what is possible, Kurt Kelty — an engineer that works for Tesla Motors — recently posted an interesting “Mythbusters” segment on battery recycling — what they’re made of and how they’re disposed of.
Some fascinating tid-bits: First, the Tesla Roadster’s battery pack or Energy Storage System (ESS) contains no heavy metals or toxic materials. By law, this means they could technically be disposed of in a landfill with no problems. However, their usefulness extends beyond pushing a car 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. Apparently, there are major differences in the demands on a battery for use in a high-performance sports car unlike, say, providing backup for a solar array. In fact, once the lithium packs are no longer performing well for the roadster, they may be recommissioned to be used as a power source for off-grid backup or load leveling.
Still, eventually the batteries will reach the end of adequate charge retention. At that point, the recycling plan comes into effect with three goals: 1.) maximize the amount of materials that can be reused, 2.) maximize the amount of materials that can be recycled; and, 3.) minimize energy consumption utilized during the transportation and recycling process. To spell this out, Kelty takes us on a photo tour of how everything is dealt with.
It’s some fascinating info — and finally sheds a little light on where these battery packs will end up. With additional vehicles like the Chevy Volt planning on taking advantage of Lithium-ion packs, it’s important to consider impact well after that last drive into the sunset. Check out more on the Tesla — which just went into full-scale production