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Problems with the Disposal of Electric Vehicle Batteries

written by: Corinne Kerston•edited by: BStone•updated: 4/8/2011

Electricity powered vehicles are becoming more and more common. They are greener and the batteries last longer. When it is time to dispose of the electric battery, there are a few problems that may get in the way.

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    electric vehicle Electric vehicle usage is on the rise. These cars have some benefits over conventional cars, such as longer battery life and being better for the environment. Also, parts of the battery can be recycled, and it is less toxic than conventional car batteries; however, there are still some problems with the disposal of electric vehicle batteries.

    There are two main types of electric vehicles. The more common type is the hybrid car. Hybrids use both electricity and gas to power the motor. The electric motor is the primary source of power in most hybrid cars, with the gas powered engine being used mainly as a backup. The hybrid car’s battery can be recharged through using the energy produced by the spinning wheels during braking.

    The other type of electric car is a pure electric vehicle. These cars run solely on battery power. Some will use braking to recharge the battery, but in most cases they will need to be plugged in to some power source when not in use.

    A benefit of electric vehicles over conventional vehicles is that their batteries last longer. Electric car batteries have warranties that last about 8 to 10 years, as opposed to conventional car batteries that last about 3 years. Since these cars use an electric current rather than fuel to power the motor, they are much greener than conventional car batteries. Many electric car batteries are mainly made up of lithium-ion, whereas many conventional batteries are made of lead and acid and can leak hazardous emissions.

    Electric vehicle batteries are recyclable for the most part. The cobalt, nickel, and other metals in the battery can be recycled and the lithium carbonate can be reused.

    However there are still some problems with disposing of the electric vehicle batteries since the battery itself cannot just be thrown out. As of right now, it is illegal to throw these out with your regular trash in many states. Also, discarding them in landfills poses the possibility that they could pollute groundwater. Lithium ion batteries are less toxic than lead acid ones, but they can still pose a health threat. Lithium and the metals that make up the battery are fairly valuable and many recycling plants are looking for ways to recycle these batteries so that they can be used again.

    Driving an electricity powered vehicle has some benefits. They are better for the environment and the car battery has a longer life. However, there are still some problems that center on disposing of the electric vehicle battery. While some parts of the battery are recyclable such as the metals, the lithium and the battery itself cannot just be discarded. Hopefully there will be a solution to this problem in the near future.

    Image Credit: complexify on flickr

    Sources:

    8 Reasons Why Fear Over Hybrid and Electric Car Batteries is Overblown

    When an Electric Car Dies, What Will Happen to the Battery?