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Challenges of Lithium ion Batteries

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October 27, 2022

What is the issue?

Safety and sustainability continue to pose impediments in the growth envisaged in Lithium Ion Batteries (LIBs) usage.

What are Lithium ion batteries?

  • Every Li-ion battery consists of three active components - anode, cathode and electrolyte.
  • The anode and cathode is where the lithium is stored while the electrolyte carries positively charged Li-ions from the anode to the cathode and vice versa through the separator.
  • The movement of the Li-ions creates free electrons in the anode, which creates a charge at the positive current collector.
  • Features
    • Small size
    • Light weight
    • High energy density
    • Ability to recharge
    • Longer lifespan compared to a lead acid battery
    • More efficiency
    • Greater driving range
    • Affordable

lithiumionbattery

What are the impediments in the growth of Li-ion batteries?

By 2025, the global demand for LIBs is likely to cross about $100 billion with the automobile sector leading as the fastest growing consumer.

  • Fires- In India, reports of fatality and material loss due to fire from LIBs are on the rise.
  • Sustainability- There are concerns around sustainability and lifecycle management of LIBs.

How to overcome the challenges?

  • Safety - Both range and fast charging aspects require thorough understanding from the metal chemistries to the overall LIB system level.
  • The quality of raw materials and components must be ensured for high fidelity manufacturing practices.
  • Electric vehicle designs need highly efficient thermal management systems and fault-detection mechanisms to avoid thermal runaways.
  • EVs need an accelerated go-to-market approach to cater to the sustainability goals driven by organisations and nations across the world.
  • Environmental sustainability- As the long-term sustainability of depending on primary mineral sources (mines) is in question, recycling is key.
  • Most recycling processes practise partial recovery wherein only high-margin metals are recovered from waste and the rest is discarded.
  • The current recycling rate is around 5-9%.
  • The Battery Waste Management Rules 2022 was notified by the government to accelerate the development of infrastructure for waste collection and improve recycling rates.
  • The Extended Producer Responsibility increases the accountability battery manufacturers need to assume towards collection, refurbishment/recycle of batteries.
  • The need of the hour is to accelerate the development of circular economy solutions that recycle all the metals and facilitate a cradle-to-cradle (infinite loop) approach.
  • A strong collaboration among technologists, policy-makers and governments is required to help manage the EV revolution.

 

References

  1. The Hindu Businessline│ Many challenges of lithium ion batteries
  2. PIB│Government notifies Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022

 

Quick facts

Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022

  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change published the Battery Waste Management Rules to ensure environmentally sound management of waste batteries.
  • The new rules will replace Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001.
  • Coverage - The rules cover all types of batteries, viz. Electric Vehicle batteries, portable batteries, automotive batteries and industrial batteries.
  • EPR - The rules function based on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which mandates the producers (including importers) of batteries to collect and recycle/refurbish waste batteries.
  • Online portal - The rules will enable setting up a centralized online portal for exchange of EPR certificates between producers and recyclers/refurbishers to fulfil the obligations of producers.
  • Recovery - It mandates minimum percentage of recovery of materials from waste batteries.
  • It also prescribes the use of certain amount of recycled materials in making of new batteries.
  • Polluter Pays Principle - Environmental compensation will be imposed for non-fulfilment of EPR targets and obligations set out in the rules.
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