Electric cars: What will happen to all the dead batteries?

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by GHT, Apr 28, 2021.

  1. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    batteries.jpg
    While electric vehicles may be carbon neutral during their working lifetime, there's concern about what happens when they run out of road - in particular what happens to the batteries.

    In 10 to 15 years when there are large numbers coming to the end of their life, it's going to be very important that we have a recycling industry.

    While most EV components are much the same as those of conventional cars, the big difference is the battery. While traditional lead-acid batteries are widely recycled, the same can't be said for the lithium-ion versions used in electric cars.

    BBC Report.
     
  2. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    Toxic sludge cannot be recycled. Which is why I am leaning hydrogen. As we develop the infrastructure to produce green hydrogen, that will be the future. There is simply no capacity on the horizon to "fuel" EVs in large numbers.

    Plus, globally about 85 % of all electricity is produced by carbon based fuels, so logically, 85% of the power for EVs is coming from fossil fuels.

    Which kinda defeats the purpose...
     
  3. AbbaDatDeHat

    AbbaDatDeHat I'll Lock Up

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    Hey Robert:
    Hope you and the bride are well.
    This was the first thing i thought of with E cars. Not, oh how great for reduced emissions, not oh how anything but oh how they don’t want to talk about what happens to the inestimatable volume of dead batteries. I immediately thought of used nuclear fuel rods and contaminated waste water. Issues not yet adequately resolved.
    I suspect we humans will do what we always do...dig a hole and bury them.
    Bad to worse?? I’m a skeptic.
    B
     
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  4. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    In order to assuage our guilt (like our ersatz plastic recycling) we will ship the batteries to Asia and let them deal with it....they will reclaim that which they can make a buck on and dispose the rest in some manner that we turn a blind eye towards.
     
  5. Brandrea33

    Brandrea33 A-List Customer

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    Companies such as this are already recycling them and putting material
    back into the supply chain.

    https://li-cycle.com/
     
    Old Mariner likes this.
  6. Fifty150

    Fifty150 One Too Many

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    And just imagine what resources went into producing all those batteries, and the pollution which resulted.

    Electric vehicles charge overnight - good ones can get a full charge in about 8 hours. Then they have an operational range of 2 hours or less, and the mileage will vary depending on if lights are on, air conditioning is being used, and other demands on the electrical system.

    The real problem is the demand on the power grid. When everyone turns on the air conditioning on a hot day, the power grid shuts down and goes to "brown outs". Homes with 120 volt electricity have to be retrofitted for 240 volt in order to install the electric vehicle charger. No big deal at the moment, as maybe only a few cars on each block are electric. And some homes already have 240 volt for appliances. More to be concerned about if every house on the block with 2 cars, suddenly has 2 electric cars. Then when everyone goes home, they plug in their car, and what would the load be on the system? Today's infrastructure would have to be completely rebuilt, in order to produce and deliver enough power for the increased load demand.

    Black smoke billowed out of a factory somewhere, instead of from the tailpipe of the car. I wonder about the efficiency of producing electricity, and delivering the electricity, then converting the electricity from high voltage AC to whatever the car's charging requirements are. No easy answer. Several decades ago, with less technology, cars like the Honda CRX got almost 50 miles to the gallon - which is about what my motorcycle gets. In a large metropolitan area, you can efficiently move a lot of people with mass transit. Not everybody is capable of riding bicycles; small children, the elderly, and the disabled. Motor scooters dominate the streets of some countries, but people in The USA are not giving up SUVs for mopeds.

    Maybe we can go back to the horse. We can ride the horse, eat the horse meat, and wear the leather.

    China makes money when we pay them to take away our garbage. China takes it to Africa.
    upload_2021-4-29_0-58-49.png
     
  7. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Some truly thought provoking comments. MisterCairo makes a point about the percentage of electricity that is derived from burning fossil fuel, quite so. There's nowhere on our tiny Island to replicate something like the Hoover Dam, so we have wind farms. How they blight the land and sea.
    How prophetic your comment will be. What sort of planet will we be leaving for future generations?

    Fifty150 Your comment: "Maybe we can go back to the horse. We can ride the horse, eat the horse meat, and wear the leather." That has a lot of common sense about it, but not for city life.
    Towards the end of the 19th century, London was virtually unlivable. The city had 11,000 carriages, several thousand buses and a variety of carts, wagons and buggies, a vehicular density unprecedented in history. And while the challenges of congestion and hygiene are not dissimilar to those of today, 19th century vehicles were horse-drawn and that brought with it a uniquely different set of issues. Horses generate a not inconsiderable quantum of solid waste. The average draft horse produces 25 pounds of manure per day. As a result, toward the end of the 19th century, the City of London was generating over 50,000 pounds of horse dung every month. Manure soon began to pile up on the streets faster than it could be cleared away and by the end of the 19th century, London was literally carpeted with a warm, brown matting, stinking to high heaven. Leaving aside the filth and the smell, this gave rise to numerous other problems like sanitation and the rapid spread of communicable diseases. Then again, we could take belfastboy's solution and ship it all out to a third world country.
     
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  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Moving waste around to other nations is the equivalent of dumping a litter box under the bed in your spare room. Eventually we're going to have to face a reckoning -- our present first world "standard of living" will, sooner than we think, be forced to an end by our own profligacy.
     
  9. Brandrea33

    Brandrea33 A-List Customer

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    I’m not sure where you’re getting your numbers from, they may be accurate for a global figure, I’m not sure.

    Here in Ontario we produce about 96% of our electricity from zero carbon emitting sources: https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-a...cial-territorial-energy-profiles-ontario.html

    In 2018, about 96% of electricity in Ontario is produced from zero-carbon emitting sources: 60% from nuclear, 26% from hydroelectricity, 7% from wind, and 2% from solar.

    The point is, the world is slowly changing over and the technology will catch up to the demand.
     
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  10. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    Recycling batteries with current or recent technology has gone VERY poorly here in SoCal. Our main recycling plant has somehow (I have yet to hear a good explanation) spewed heavy metals all over the area. They have been finding residue under shelves in homes miles away. It's a mess. Not to say it can't be done but usually it takes a redesign of the material being recycled to make it more perfectly recyclable ... it's rare an improvement in the recycling technology itself is hugely effective. I have heard that this was one of the reasons Germany makes all manufacturers buy back whatever is left of their products as they exit the consumer chain ... if they have to take it back they will manufacture it so they can make money recycling it.

    We're going to have a similar problem with solar panels. It's just a matter of time. All this renewable energy is a pipe dream if you're trying to run a whole civilization on it. Good for a mountain cabin, useless (so far) otherwise. The future, that we know of, is vastly improved nuclear plants. The future that we sort of know of is fusion. The future that we don't know of is something else, something yet to be discovered or yet to be imagined working at scale. The fact that we don't have a "Manhattan Project" to move into the energy future makes it clear we are not serious about anything. Whoever controls/creates this next step writes their ticket into the future. It. Is. Everything.
     
  11. Fifty150

    Fifty150 One Too Many

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    On the front end, manufacturing batteries and solar panels is not a green process. A lot of pollution associated.

    I'm not a scientist. I am just a guy who sees that you can't make batteries and solar panels without factories and pollution.

    Looking at my personal math, my car has 1 battery. Electric cars have the equivalent of how many car batteries? With all things being fair and equal, my pickup truck battery lasted 10 years.....and the replacement battery is now 5 years and still working great. If I can get 8 - 12 years from a car battery, because I'm not buying cheap batteries, I'll be responsible for about 10 car batteries, maximum, over my lifetime of driving. If I can live to 100, and drive until I die, that gives me 85 driving years. If I have an electric car which needs new batteries every 10 or 12 years, what is the math on that?
     
  12. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

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    Personally, I think battery-electric cars are a step in the right direction, but also a convenient opportunity for greenwashing.

    Having everyone driving around in their own private car, regardless of propulsion system, is massively inefficient, and unsustainable. It takes a lot of energy to build a vehicle, but the way we use them is just as bad. Almost everyone is agreed that city traffic, stopping and starting and hunting for a space in acres of parking is miserable.

    ...and yet, most of the wealthy world has spent a lifetime building around the assumption that we want nothing more!

    By heralding electric cars as the great solution, we can pretend there's no need for difficult systemic change.
     
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  13. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    A hundred years ago you could ride from my town to Boston on interurban trolleys for a pocket full of transfers, and could take a regular train to just about anywhere in North America. They tore up the trolley tracks in 1931 because the Chamber of Commerce wanted to promote auto sales, and they killed passenger rail service in 1959 because it was "out of date." Now, ninety years later, people are yelling for public transportation, and the slightest hint that Amtrak will restore our passenger service is greeted with exultation.

    Sometimes "progress" doesn't mean "going forward."
     
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  14. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    I've lived, on and off, west of Durango, CO. Up until the '20s or '30s the area used to be interlaced with narrow gauge tracks with Durango, Silverton, Dolores, Cortez, Hesperus, Mancos, Bayfield and Ignatio all being in the network. It's quite a large area and there was probably more of it that I'm unaware of. As train usage died away and the freight traffic shifted to trucks (which only ran when they needed to and could deliver materials door to door) the Rio Grande Southern used what was nicknamed a Galloping Goose, basically a automobile with a lightweight trolley grafted on, to keep up the passenger connections. It was fantastically cool and would be greatly appreciated today if any of that track except the Silverton stretch was still in existence. I could have caught a ride 15 miles into Durango from right across the highway.

    Unfortunately, all track, especially track that has been used for heavy freight, is very expensive to maintain and the story is the same as it was here in Los Angeles relating to the Red Cars and the LARY system: Autos hit a certain level of popularity right around the time when certain communities seemed to be dying out and others expanding. Rather than speculating as to whether or not the entire area would "fill in" in the next 100 years the network was abandoned in favor of a more flexible system of logistics trucks and cars that could simply go where they are needed when they are needed. I get it. After a certain point and for a certain period maintaining overused rail networks was a terrible investment. No one had any idea what areas were going to grow. But it sure was cool!
     
  15. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    It's so interesting, this is an idea I NEVER hear about in the US. It simply never comes up. I'm kind of plugged into the UK classic car scene and many Brits use it as an explanation for why they choose to restore an old car. The Americans just look at them (figuratively) like they are crazy. It has never seemed to me that the physics/math falls extraordinarily in the favor of the older higher polluting car being more environmentally friendly if it keeps one from buying a newer car because of the energy used to build the new car but (having a soft spot for older cars) I'm ready to be convinced. I realize this wasn't your exact point but it did remind me of this question I've never taken the time to ask.
     
  16. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    I have noted three things specific to Tesla cars:
    1) Super fast. They leave most internal combustion cars in the dust.
    2) Incredible longevity. If they don't develop software issues, they go and go and go. No idea how many battery changes you'll need in the "lifetime of the car" but the lifetime is a long time.
    3) Something terrible seems to happen if they get in a wreck that is not the typical car v car fender bender. When you see on that has hit a wall or a post or caught fire ... there's not much left.
    4) My Alfa sounds better. Electrics may go, but they do not sing!

    I have dreams of converting a Citron DS or SM to some sort of Tesla custom developer package ... we just have to get Tesla to build a classic car retrofit kit.
     
  17. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    A Galloping Goose -- --
     
  18. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

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    Fun fact: Until about a hundred years ago, electric cars were a competitive commercial proposition. They were much quieter and cleaner than early petrol engines, and range wasn't much of an issue because there were no high-speed inter-city roads.
     
  19. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion Call Me a Cab

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    Essentially, three factors are mainly responsible for killing intercity passenger trains in the US:

    1. Development of the interstate highway system;

    2. Low cost commercial jet aircraft travel; and

    3. Cancellation of railway post office (RPO) and mail hauling contracts by the Feds.

    Part of it also are the restrictions of time on business and recreational travel. Personally, a train ride across the country is three days of pure travel adventure and pleasure. My wife, on the other hand, is of the, "let's get there as fast as we can and enjoy our precious few days of vacation at our destination" mentality. And I regret to say that hers is the majority view among most people.

    No doubt, several doctoral dissertations have been published dealing with the economic disadvantages that the rail industry had to deal with in the US (labor intensive service, property taxes, Federal and state regulation, etc.). I'd submit that learning how to travel with others on a train for an extended period imparted social skills to our grandparents which have been lost in the last 70 years-- to our great detriment.
     
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  20. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    How Stuff Works by: Kristen Hall-Geisler Updated: Apr 15, 2021
    The batteries that power electric cars and hybrids, for that matter, can be recycled. For decades, the few electric vehicles that were on the road were powered by lead-acid batteries. The latest models, with their lighter weight and longer range, use lithium-ion batteries, just like laptops and cell phones. In either case, the batteries that power electric cars can be recycled.
    https://auto.howstuffworks.com/can-electric-car-batteries-be-recycled.htm
    To our American cousins, what is the American take on the General Motors conspiracy?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy
     
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