The Impact of Battery Production

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 2:46 PM

It has been cited that the production of lithium batteries has the biggest impact on our environment. As we move away from fossil fuels and moving toward energy storage, it is important to be aware of the impact so we do not cause a worse impact believing we are doing something good and end up in a worse situation than before.

Batteries are key in energy storage and especially since we are shifting toward electric cars. Additionally, with the development of third world countries it is estimated to expand our need for lithium by nine times. It is estimated that we will use up one half of our resources by 2050. However abundant that may seem, it is important to think about the environmental impacts.

Lithium batteries have the largest impact on metal depletion. There are are also social and health consequences associated with the mining of lithium. The largest lithium mine is located in a scenic area in Bolivia and their government will make sure there is little impact as possible. The process in which lithium is extracted is also toxic. This is partially due to the extraction process and the use of copper associated with mining. The materials required in battery production have the most significant contribution to greenhouse gases and climate change and ozone depletion. See graph below.



Relying on virgin practices and using instead of recycling may result in increased prices and depetion of a limited resource. This is why it is important to think about recycling and caring for our batteries instead of throwing them away. To find your nearest recycling center in the U.S go to: http://www.call2recycle.org/locator/

In Europe, several hundred thousands tonnes of lithium are being disposed of daily. So as a result, they have created regulations so that companies who produce and sell batteries also have a responsibility to recycle or create programs for the consumer.

As we pull away from fossil fuels, it is essential to understand the impact and consequences of producing batteries as a replacement.

Resource: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2011.12.062

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