Recycling batteries is the key to securing enough raw materials to power the surge in electric vehicle demand, according to a winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. “The point is whether EV batteries can be recycled,” said Akira Yoshino, a Japanese chemist who was awarded the prize with two others for their pioneering work on modern lithium-ion batteries that are used in smartphones to cars. “The cost should pay off if all of waste car batteries in Japan are collected and processed.”
The world’s transition to battery power, including electric vehicles, is set to boost demand for commodities from copper to nickel and cobalt. But there’s also concerns that miners won’t be able to expand raw material supply fast enough, and any shortfall will offer bigger opportunities for recycling. China has already emerged as a leader in the field.
The next mission for the industry is to increase the amount of solar and wind energy that can be stored in batteries used in cars, Yoshino, 71, said in an interview on Wednesday. After around 2025, when Yoshino predicts EVs will make up about 15% of new car sales worldwide, the auto industry will likely see electrification incorporated into car-sharing and self-driving vehicles, he said. “The ideal style for the future is people don’t own a car and a self-driving vehicle is coming whenever anyone wants to use the service.”