Researchers at Cornell University, partially funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, recently published a study that outlines ways to sustainably repurpose used lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries to reduce their carbon footprint. The researchers investigated how battery chemistry, reuse and recycling influence the energy output and environmental impact of lithium-ion EV batteries.
The analysis, published in Science Advances, found that the carbon footprint of a lithium-ion EV battery can be reduced by up to 17% if it is reused before being recycled. Batteries with reduced energy storage capacity can be repurposed to store wind and solar energy. The research is key to manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles that are designed for sustainability instead of performance.
“What to do with all these retired electric vehicle batteries is going to be a huge issue,” said Fengqi You, one of the authors of the study. The research team considered environmental and economic tradeoffs in how batteries are built, used and recycled.