At the end of their long life, Tesla will recycle its battery packs at Umicore’s UHT facility in Belgium. The Brussels-based materials technology company will use the expended pack material to produce an alloy that will be further refined into cobalt, nickel and other metals.
After that, Umicore will transform the cobalt into high grade lithium cobalt oxide, which can be resold to battery manufacturers. One of the few by-products of their environmentally-friendly approach is a clean inertized slag containing calcium oxides and lithium. The slag goes into the production of special grades concretes.
Umicore’s battery recycling technology allows saving a minimum of 70 percent on CO2 emissions at the recovery and refining of these valuable metals. So it can substantially reduce the carbon footprint for the manufacturing of Lithium-Ion batteries.
“While we work to help lessen global dependence on petroleum-based transportation and drive down the cost of electric vehicles, we are also taking the lead in developing a closed loop battery recycling system,” Tesla’s Director of Energy Storage Systems Kurt Kelty wrote in a new blog about the process.
Tesla has been building and selling highway-capable, fully-certified electric cars for three years, during which time the Silicon Valley-based company has championed recycling and use of non-toxic materials. Tesla customers do not pay extra for recycling of the battery pack, which is expected to last 7-10 years or about 160,000 kilometers under normal use.