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Tesla recycles 92% of the raw materials for its batteries, although it is not enough

The Tesla battery recycling system has managed to recover 92% of raw materials originals for re-entry into the production system, depending on the impact report 2021 manufacturer. Tesla also shared some details about its battery chemistry, noting that lithium only accounts for about 1.5% of its total weight in which they use ternary cathodes NCA or NCM. On the other hand, battery packs LFP (iron phosphate) do not require cobalt or nickel, two of the materials most susceptible to price changes due to their complicated availability.

Tesla’s process for the battery recycling it has been developed internally by the manufacturer since the end of 2020. In August 2021, the 2020 impact report already indicated its extraordinary performance as it was capable of recovering 92% of the materials present in its battery cells. The first phase of the facility went live at the Nevada Gigafactory in the last quarter of 2020.

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Life cycle of the materials that form the raw material of the cathodes of electric vehicle batteries.

Is not sufficient

Despite the great performance of this recycling system, the Tesla report makes clear the need for draw on the supply chain for materials to meet the growing demand for batteries for its electric cars. The manufacturer claims that the relative composition of the materials that make up its cathodes will continue to evolve over time. Forecasts indicate that the market in which all car manufacturers are involved will require significant amounts of lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, iron, phosphates and many other minerals in the near future.

While Tesla recognizes the critical role battery recycling plays in supplying a portion of these materials, thus enabling the closed-loop supply chain, in the short to medium term, global cell production will continue to be heavily dependent on of the extracted primary materials.

The availability and affordability of these minerals and chemicals “are key to advancing Tesla’s mission and accelerating the transition to sustainable energy,” the report states. His intention is to continue collaborating with other external material recovery companies that will continue to complement Tesla’s work to recycle batteries at the end of their useful life.

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Different materials for the cathodes of Tesla batteries. From left to right: NCA (nickel cobalt aluminum), NCM (nickel cobalt manganese), and LFP (lithium ferrophosphate).

For your cells that contain NCA cathodes (nickel, cobalt and aluminum) and NCM (nickel, cobalt and manganese), Tesla will continue working to increase the proportion of nickel, which allows improving the autonomy of vehicles. In this way, you will also be able to reduce the overall production costs of your batteries. without compromising performance, safety and service life, reducing as much as possible the use of cobalt. “It is important to note that we expect the absolute demand for cobalt to increase in the coming years because our vehicle and cell production growth rate is projected to exceed the overall rate of cobalt reduction per cell,” Tesla says.

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