Tesla is preparing to build a new battery cell and electric motor recycling facility at its Gigafactory Shanghai in China, according to documents filed with the local authorities.
In order for battery-electric vehicles to increase their positive environmental advantage over combustion engines, companies need to incorporate recycling of critical components.
Combustion engines burn gas, and once that gas is burnt, it turns into harmful emissions.
With battery-electric vehicles, once those batteries are not depleted, the valuable materials they are made of still exist and can be recycled.
The new wave of electric vehicles only started about a decade ago, so there haven’t been many EVs to recycle yet, but it’s going to come, and companies are preparing for it.
Tesla’s Gigafactory Shanghai is rapidly becoming one of the biggest EV factories in the world, and we now learn that Tesla is adding recycling facilities to the project.
Reuters reported on the documents:
US electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla Inc plans to add facilities at its Shanghai factory to repair and reproduce key components such as electric motors and battery cells, a document submitted by Tesla to Shanghai authorities shows.
The same documents also show Tesla adding more manufacturing capacity at the plant:
The document also said Tesla will add manufacturing capacities for car structures and electric motor controllers. It did not put detailed figures of its manufacturing capacities.
In 2019, Tesla announced that it is developing a “unique battery recycling system.”
The automaker wrote about the new system:
At Gigafactory 1, Tesla is developing a unique battery recycling system that will process both battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries. Through this system, the recovery of critical minerals such as lithium and cobalt will be maximized along with the recovery of all metals used in the battery cell, such as copper, aluminum, and steel. All of these materials will be recovered in forms optimized for new battery material production.
Tesla is not alone in working on battery recycling or second life for battery modules and cells.
Many automakers, like Hyundai, BMW, and Renault, have announced plans to use old battery packs in energy storage systems instead of recycling them to make new ones.
Several companies are also currently working on ways to be able to recover critical minerals from battery cells in the recycling process.
American Manganese achieved high extraction from lithium-ion battery cathode material at their pilot recycling plant.
JB Straubel, Tesla cofounder and former CTO, started a material recycling startup that is recycling battery cell scraps from Panasonic’s production at Tesla’s Gigafactory Nevada.
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