Lead-acid batteries, commonly used in EVs, tend to deteriorate over time, leading to reduced capacity and performance. Battery rejuvenation aims to reverse this degradation by restoring the battery to a state close to its original condition
Global CO2 emissions have surged dramatically in the past few decades owing to our massive reliance on fossil fuels. As a result, the world is experiencing catastrophes such as uneven temperature rises, shifting geographic ranges, melting polar caps, and more. As the impact of climate change is taking hold, it has become more important to seek sustainable solutions. However, the world has been taking significant steps to curb these effects in terms of introducing electric mobility, and India is not lagging behind.
The nation’s EV market stood at a whopping market size of $4.15 billion in 2022, according to Precedence Research. It showcases that India has made significant progress in meeting its emissions goals. Yet, the success of EVs and sustainability practices hinges on a critical component: batteries. The concern is the potential of EV batteries to contribute to the creation of e-waste. As the demand for EVs surges, so does the need for more batteries, resulting in increased mining for resources, leading to detrimental environmental impacts.
In a bid to ensure a sustainable future and to support the ambitious goal of reducing e-waste, the nation needs to employ a circular economy and battery rejuvenation techniques.
Circular economy: need of the hour
Automakers today prefer to use two types of batteries in their EVs: lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries. As per the current trend in terms of handling Li-ion batteries, most of these spent batteries end up in landfills, causing adverse impacts on the environment. On the other hand, lead-acid batteries have a significant advantage as they have been recycled at a higher rate. According to a study by the Institute of Green Energy Research, only 5% of lithium batteries are recycled in the world, compared to 99% of lead-acid batteries recycled in the United States. Therefore, in terms of reducing e-waste and employing circular economy, lead acid batteries can have an added advantage.
A circular economy is a regenerative approach to production and consumption. It seeks to minimise waste and extract maximum value from products and materials, thereby reducing the strain on the earth’s resources. In a circular economy, activities that conserve value in the form of energy, labour, and materials are encouraged. This entails designing for durability, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling in order to keep goods, components, and materials in circulation. When applied to lead-acid batteries, a circular economy mindset necessitates a shift from the linear "take-make-dispose" model to one that promotes recycling, reusing, and rejuvenating batteries.
Rejuvenation: a catalyst for increasing battery lifespan
Recycling batteries is an emission-intensive operation that produces a lot of CO2 and harms the environment. This is why using cutting-edge technologies to revive lead-acid batteries are quite beneficial. Over the course of the cell's existence, CO2 emissions might be significantly decreased by increasing the battery life. In this regard, battery rejuvenation can be used to extend the lifespan of lead-acid batteries, making them a more sustainable and cost-effective energy storage solution. Lead-acid batteries, commonly used in EVs, tend to deteriorate over time, leading to reduced capacity and performance. Battery rejuvenation aims to reverse this degradation by restoring the battery to a state close to its original condition.
Many new-age businesses have emerged in the domain that not only have expertise in providing highly efficient lead-acid batteries but also possess the technology to successfully rejuvenate all types of batteries. They utilise the electrochemical battery enhancement process (EBEP) technology, which is not only cost-efficient but also saves the environment from hazardous pollution. This is a green energy technique of rejuvenation that tends to double the life of lead-acid batteries.
The methodology's main goal is to restore any lead-acid battery that has lost potential, including those that are assumed to be junk, spent, and out of service in any state of charge. Regardless of the type of batteries, including valve regulated lead acid battery (VRLA), absorbent glass mat (AGM), gel, or flooded batteries, they could be revived using this cutting-edge technology. The requisite for the success of this process is that the battery’s internal mechanical integrity must be intact.
All things considered
As the world grapples with the adverse effects of climate change, nations are striving to adapt the relevant solutions to minimise its impact. While EVs can be one significant step towards reducing carbon emissions, substantial attention must be given to the batteries owing to the rapid depletion of natural resources. The most viable solution the industry can consider is adapting to a circular economy coupled with battery rejuvenation, which can be essential in not only reducing e-waste but also increasing the life-span of the batteries.
In this regard, lead-acid batteries have a pivotal role to play as they can be easily rejuvenated and incorporated into a circular economy when compared to Li-ion batteries. However, in a bid to reduce the overall environmental impact, participants along the entire value chain need to work together with other stakeholders. Therefore, this is a high time for automakers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to embrace these transformative approaches and play a vital role in protecting the planet by reducing e-waste.
(Kavinder Khurana is the managing director, Tesla Power USA.)