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Battery metals a multi-billion dollar urban mine

The global lithium-ion battery recycling market is expected to process 12 million tonnes of end-of-life batteries by 2042. Research firm IDTechEx anticipates two ‘booming’ decades will recover valuable metals worth US$ 51 billion (EUR 45 billion).

Owing to the growing popularity of electric cars, consumer electronics, energy storage systems and the overall advancements in recycling technologies, industry stakeholders will witness 22% growth during the forecast period 2022-2042, the research concludes.

The new report provides an in-depth analysis of the current state of the global Li-ion battery recycling market, including technology and policy. ‘While there is a clear dominance in China, due to establishing specific Li-ion battery management policy early-on, Europe and North America are catching on,’ the analysts write.

Without an efficient battery collection network, a low volume of batteries or the high cost of collection could damage the economics of recycling. Another challenge is said to be the lack of design for recycling that make battery disassembly and sorting costly and time-consuming.

While the sheer scale of EV batteries and easier collection provides a huge opportunity, it is seen as coming with various technical and economic challenges. Variety of design and the high voltage of EV battery packs mean safe disassembly will remain a complex and time-consuming stage.

Furthermore, the value per kWh embedded within EV batteries is lower than consumer electronics batteries. This means recyclers will have to extract more material at higher purities and efficiencies for their recycling processes to be profitable.

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