VEB, baterías de vehículos nuevas formas de reciclarse 

Algunas estimaciones afirman que el mercado de baterías usadas para vehículos eléctricos vale alrededor de 500 millones de dólares hoy y podría alcanzar los 10 mil millones de dólares en 10 años. Este mercado está cambiando rápidamente, pero en este momento la transición de los vehículos eléctricos a la red parece ser uno de los principales casos de uso y eso debería ser cierto a medida que se retiran cada vez más baterías de vehículos eléctricos.

Most EVs use lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries. It is a simple fact that e-mobility’s present and future rely on this critical, volatile chemical energy storage medium.

It is the nature of rechargeable batteries that each charge cycle results in a slight degradation of its performance. Rarely do these batteries completely fail to operate; they just reach a point at which the specific energy or power is not sufficient for the application at hand.

This is the end of the service life and it is measured in terms of numbers of cycles. The manner in which the charging and discharging cycles take place also has an effect on the ultimate number of cycles. Some batteries, for example are limited to discharge levels no lower than 20% of full charge.

As the number of EV batteries with no more practical transportation use rises, and continues to grow as so do EVs, the industry is left with a challenge. Unlike consumer electronics, which are designed for only a few years of life before replacement, EV batteries are designed with an eight year life. Given the typical design margin for cars, a serviceable battery life could reasonably be as much as 10 years or more. EV batteries are potentially the largest available supply that could be recycled or re-used.


Manufacturers and suppliers want to differentiate between the battery modules that can be recycled from the ones that can easily be put back in service for a “second life.”

EV batteries might become unsuitable for on-road transportation, but they still have a substantial power storage capacity, perhaps 80% or more of their “as new” condition when they are retired from vehicle service. For example, with an entire battery pack, it may be that just a few of the modules are at or below the 80% threshold, but many of the modules may be perfectly functional and still have enough capacity to be useful for grid power. The threshold for EV batteries used in electrical grid applications can go as low as 60% before retiring (recycling) them.

There is already a demand for these batteries for grid storage capacity. In order to alleviate the intermittency of renewable energy generation, battery storage is seen a solution so that power stations can call energy reserves into action during peak demands or during times of no wind or sun.

One such company, B2U Storage Solutions uses second-life EV batteries for grid storage. They maintain a solar farm that tops off the batteries during the day. At night, the battery capacity is tapped to supply power, available as needed. There is a B2U 28 MWh facility in Lancaster, California, and B2U just initiated a second plant with 12 MWh capacity in Cuyama.

Grid stabilizing power storage is reliable and more cost effective and sustainable than new generation. Notably, part of the proprietary know-how developed to make this conversion possible is the “plug and play” connection scheme that B2U designed that allows them to use batteries from a variety of manufacturers. B2U assembles these storage systems in ISO containers, which in the future could help aid in temporary large-scale power needs, such as for a large event or in a disaster.

Some estimates state the used EV battery market is worth about $500 million today and could be up to $10 billion in 10 years. This market is changing rapidly, but at the moment the transition from EV to grid seems to be one of the top use cases and that should be true as more and more EV batteries get retired.


All li-ion batteries contain metals deemed to be “critical materials” by the U.S. government — namely lithium, cobalt and nickel. This means that there is a strategic national interest in maintaining a domestic supply of these metals. As part of the 2023 Inflation Reduction Act, the U.S. government authorized an incentive program for recycling batteries and re-using those components in domestic manufacturing.

EV batteries are almost exclusively provided by Chinese organizations. Many of the materials are mined in Chinese mines. A shortage of these materials or batteries, either due to rising demand or geopolitical tension, would imperil the U.S. shift to e-mobility, as well as a score of other domestic industries. According to Reuters, there are more than $1,100 worth of precious metals in each EV battery.

It’s easy to see the economic and environmental case to re-use existing or refabricate new batteries from dismantled obsolete batteries.

Li-ion batteries that truly are at end of life are reconstituted. It starts with a process called shredding, which is exactly as it sounds. The batteries are first inactivated to prevent fires and may be broken down from packs into modules or even individual cells depending on the shredding equipment available.

After shredding, the materials are organized into different categories. Notable is the “black mass” — essentially the cathodic materials that are turned into pulverized fragments.

This part of the battery contains all the exotic and expensive metals so it must be handled by a specialty extractor operation. Two processes are employed: smelting extracts cobalt and nickel while chemical leaching can additionally extract lithium and manganese. Once these separation steps have taken place the metals are essentially ready for reprocessing back into new batteries.


Even though millions of EVs are now using these types of batteries, that doesn’t mean li-ion will remain the primary power source indefinitely. Li-ion power storage still has major limitations in terms of its volatility and long-term performance. As a result, R&D continues on power technologies like sodium ion batteries, solid state batteries, aqueous magnesium batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and more.

However, the li-ion battery cycle infrastructure is being continuously developed, as it is the technology that will bridge millions of commuters to the next battery technology. And that add significance to finding creative uses for batteries after their primary application has passed, or ensuring the ongoing recycling of domestic stock.