[External] Re: 10g residential CPE

Mel Beckman mel at beckman.org
Mon Dec 28 14:57:48 UTC 2020

It’s not just the lithium load in the environment that is of concern. As early as 2018 the US EPA had collected data on the incidence of so-called “hot fires” caused by lithium batteries in the waste stream. So far, nobody has been killed. But it’s only a matter of time before someone is, given that there are no thermal protection measures built into the cells themselves, only into a functioning product. But the industry has dismissed self-extinguishing batteries as too impactful on weight/performance ratio.


 -mel beckman

On Dec 27, 2020, at 10:23 PM, Mark Tinka <mark.tinka at seacom.com> wrote:

On 12/28/20 05:29, Brandon Martin wrote:

Interestingly, the Lithium content is the, in theory, valuable part of it. There's not actually much Li in a typical Li-Ion rechargeable battery (much less than a Li metal primary cell), but my understanding is that it's enough to have people interested considering that we're already basically consuming the world's Lithium supply just about as fast as we can economically mine and refine it.  However, that may account for the apparently low recyleable content of a given battery. By mass and volume, it's mostly electrodes, which are common metals, and paper separator which is worthless.

I would imagine that, as "dead" Li-Ion cells become more available and demand presumably continues to rise (absent a better battery tech), folks will get more serious about recycling the electrolyte.

A lot of the development of Li-Ion batteries has gone into cost reduction. Very little of that has been spent on recyclablity. The lack of regulation around this hasn't helped either.

However, there are a number of initiatives afoot that may see this improve in the next decade. Moreover, the theory is that the nickel, cobalt, manganese and lithium available in spent batteries is not unlike highly-enriched ore. If these metals can be recycled at scale, it lowers the environmental impact (less need to mine natural ores), as well reduce the cost of the new batteries.

It's one area to watch.

For the moment, Li-Ion batteries are not terribly clean from a recyclability standpoint. But as renewable storage goes, it's the least of all evils that has great potential to be cleaner from ongoing development.


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