Financial viability of electric vehicle lithium-ion battery recycling

Elsevier, iScience, Volume 24, 23 July 2021
Lander L., Cleaver T., Rajaeifar M.A., Nguyen-Tien V., Elliott R.J.R., Heidrich O. et al.

Economically viable electric vehicle lithium-ion battery recycling is increasingly needed; however routes to profitability are still unclear. We present a comprehensive, holistic techno-economic model as a framework to directly compare recycling locations and processes, providing a key tool for recycling cost optimization in an international battery recycling economy. We show that recycling can be economically viable, with cost/profit ranging from (−21.43 - +21.91) $·kWh−1 but strongly depends on transport distances, wages, pack design and recycling method. Comparing commercial battery packs, the Tesla Model S emerges as the most profitable, having low disassembly costs and high revenues for its cobalt. In-country recycling is suggested, to lower emissions and transportation costs and secure the materials supply chain. Our model thus enables identification of strategies for recycling profitability.