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Video: Ever wonder how lithium is mined for batteries?

Discussion in 'Battery Discussion' started by f-stop, Jan 11, 2017.

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  1. f-stop

    f-stop Active Member

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    just came across this short Bloomberg video with Ashlee Vance (author or Elon Musk biography) visiting a lithium mine in Chile's Atacama Desert. Not a lot of techincal details, but interesting to see, plus a couple mentions of Tesla

    Ever wonder how lithium is mined for batteries?
     
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  2. TrevTremaine

    TrevTremaine Member

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    So, the obvious question is how "green" is lithium?

    If most of it comes from underground wells, allowed to dry in huge ponds on the surface, what are the impacts? Although there's no sign of life around where the mines are (Chilean desert), is there any detrimental effect - by-products, ecological, etc? In my opinion, an independent environmentalist such as David Suzuki would lend credibility to it. I have seen a video of his trip to South American operations, but nothing states exactly the impact.

    I'm also curious about recycling, which hasn't truly caught on yet, and I'm sure that details of the recovery of materials isn't widely known. How much material is wasted/unrecoverable from batteries?

    What would be the future with newer battery material development? How does this impact ecology and recyclability?
     
  3. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    Recycling lead acid batteries from ICE starter batteries is a mature industry, no reason why li-ion car batteries couldn't be recycled when there is an industrial supply of them.
     
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  4. TrevTremaine

    TrevTremaine Member

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    True, but given that there's already a great deal of battery usage with cellphones and many other electronic items there's really nothing noted about recovery and recycling of materials.
     
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  5. jkn

    jkn Member

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    Lithium makes about 2% of battery, so recycling nickel is more important.

    It is easier to recycle large car battery than collect similar amount of cellphone batteries.
     
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  6. Rossy

    Rossy Supporting Member

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    Found this great talk on Li-Ion battery life research. Note: most of the talk is quite technical. But the PhD guru inventor of the new test technique works for Tesla now. (Not presenter). I loved this talk, but I work in test and measurement.
     
  7. ironcreek

    ironcreek New Member

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    Don't forget that Cobalt is a critical metal to the Lithium battery. At present cobalt is hard to find a u.s.a. supply source.
     
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  8. TrevTremaine

    TrevTremaine Member

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    I've been arguing over the whole idea of using lithium batteries with someone who claims to "know". His claims include how environmentally damaging it is (despite his dismissal over oil and gas extraction - let alone any other mineral extraction), and that a 1KG Lithium battery requires 12.5KG of CO2 to manufacture.

    To counter lithium extraction claims:
    Life Cycle Analysis of Electric Car Shows Battery Has Only Minor Impact

    The claim for CO2:
    How “Green” is Lithium?

    I don't believe the second article, but would like to find reputable sources of information to be able to affirm or deny such claims. It's frustrating trying to clarify what the reality is versus misinformation.
     
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  9. jkn

    jkn Member

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    Collecting phone and laptop batteries for recycling is expensive, so it is often not done. Collecting car batteries is much easier.

    Manufacturing lithium batteries is developing fast. So energy usage is probably dropping. Increasing capacity of batteries will of course decrease manufacturing energy / battery capacity. 12.5 kg CO2 is from 2012 study. I don't know how old sources it used. Current value is smaller, probably much smaller.

    12.5 kg/kg battery CO2/kg would be roughly 10000 km of gasoline car emissions. Ignoring energy used to produce gasoline. Which is quite high. Does any refinery tell how high?
     
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  10. Brando

    Brando Member

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    Sadly, the only way it seems cell phone batteries re-cycle is to have the government pass another law/regulation.
    IF you sell a cell phone you MUST have a re-cycle program.

    Should probably be the same for alkaline batteries etc. AAA, AA, C, D - all consumer electronic batteries.

    One time plastics should be outlawed.- cellophane and paper should be encouraged.
     
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  11. jkn

    jkn Member

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    In EU about half of small batteries are recycled. Shops must take and recycle old batteries from consumers. Belgium has highest recycling rate 70%. I have returned ours for years.

    It will be difficult to make cellphone without plastic..
     
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  12. Brando

    Brando Member

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    One time plastic = as in packaging, plastic forks & spoons, bags ... you get the idea.
    Not for one time use throw away type things.

    Plastics should be used where they have a long life.
    Such as electronics (they still need to be recycled at end of life)

    EU in general I suspect has much better recycle and waste management, from what I have read.

    PS- great to read about battery recycling !

    Sad to read that EU gave Monsanto another 5 year permit to sell/use "Round Up" which was developed for Vietnam War and known as "Agent Orange" . IF you are a US Veteran and contract Multiple Sclerosis AND served in Vietnam during Agent Orange spraying the Veterans Administration will provide "treatment" at no cost. Otherwise you'll get no help.
     
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  13. jkn

    jkn Member

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    If I remember correctly "Agent Orange" had very poisonous impurity. "Round Up" got extension, because we don't have replacement for it.
     
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  14. Brando

    Brando Member

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    #14 Brando, Jan 19, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
    OFF TOPIC warning my last post on this topic

    Very dangerous group of chemicals - even wikipedia (often can just be ad pages for corporations) hints at how dangerous they are - South East Asia (spayed most of Vietnam during the US war) still suffering birth defects.
    Seems RoundUP is used in about 130 world wide - exceeded only by US military bases.

    Two similar groups of chemical herbicides both are dangerous:

    Glyphosate - Wikipedia
    Glufosinate - Wikipedia
     
  15. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    Yes it is off topic, can you guys take your round up discussion elsewhere?
     
  16. jkn

    jkn Member

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    I didn't want to start off topic discussion. I only tried to correct obvious mistake with one line. Longer answer in:
    Roundup - glyphosate

    Perhaps moderator will move previous messages and leave this as a pointer.
     
  17. Icer

    Icer Member

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    It is my understanding there is no process for recovering lithium.
    Not that nobody is doing it. They can't.
    Is that correct?

    *
    On the Horizon
    Protesters carrying signs, "No War For Cobalt".
     
  18. Brando

    Brando Member

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    Li is a salt. Li batteries to not destroy atoms. Every thing can be ground up and reused. Tesla is building re-cycle for Li batteries as part of their business plans. reuse? recycle? what ever makes the most sense.

    Some google searches and you'll find similar articles such as
    Tesla executives listed as officers at materials recycling firm
    Tesla CTO JB Straubel talks battery technology, ‘one-stop sustainable lifestyle’ company & more

    hint: You can put entire questions into google (ie not just single words)
     
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  19. WannabeOwner

    WannabeOwner Active Member

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    Here in the UK we have recycle collections. Alternate weeks "landfill rubbish" and "recycle rubbish" bins. Our recycle bin has a simple hook on the side, and we can attach a bag containing batteries to it, so that they are separated in the recycle process. I think it is a nice simple solution, although not scalable to "every product that the consumer could possibly separate out"!

    Just to correct this point: Round Up is a very different chemical and not at all the same thing as Agent Orange.
     
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  20. jkn

    jkn Member

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    In EU all types of batteries get mixed. I don't know if they do recover lithium from that. I don't believe recovering lithium is difficult. Collecting only lithium batteries is a problem. EV batteries will change that.
     

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