Lithium-Ion Car Batteries

LiIonBattA current worry amongst environmentalists is that the Lithium-Ion batteries that are being integrated into newer car models (specifically hybrids) won’t be recycled. This is an interesting thought, considering:

Car batteries actually have the highest recycling rate of any waste product in the world.

But traditional car batteries have a reason to be recycled: even though they don’t hold a charge anymore they still contain lead and nickel, which can be re-used. Lithium-Ion batteries essentially don’t cost a lot to make and it would cost more in the end to recover the lithium.

I found this article interesting for two reasons.

  1. I cannot believe car batteries are the most recycled waste product! Think of all the plastic products that we use on a daily basis. We use our cars on a daily basis too, but I’m certainly not buying a new car battery every day. A relatively recent statistic says that 80% of water bottles end up in the trash! (The Gazette). This just seems absurd to me, and it’s indicative that our recycling recycling habits seem not to rely on improving our environment, but rather on the value of the recyclable product.
  2. Secondly, I think it’s fascinating that we’re slowly switching our cars over to Lithium-Ion batteries. This was a battery that, I believe, originally started in digital cameras as an alternative to AA batteries. Although initially expensive, their longer battery life and “rechargeability” were luring to customers.

Clearly there will be an interesting debate over the “environmentally friendly” aspect of Lithium-Ion batteries in the future, especially if they don’t believe consumers/manufacturers will place the dead batteries in the proper recycle bin. It’s a major concern if they make it into our landfills and the chemicals contained in the batteries start leaching into our water…

[via Yahoo! Green]

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