CATL Chairman Claims Main Components of Lithium Batteries Can Be Recycled

Robin Zeng, Chairman of Chinese battery giant CATL, said that, unlike oil, lithium battery’s main components can be recycled, adding that the development of the lithium battery industry makes the energy mix in China change from relying on resources to manufacturing and recycling, which can give full play to China’s manufacturing advantages, Seashell Finance reported on October 26.

The biggest change in the battery industry in the recent ten years is that the energy density has increased by two to three times, and the cruising range has increased from more than 100 km to 1,000 km. More and more consumers are opting for new energy vehicles, making China’s monthly penetration rate of electric vehicles reach over 30%.

However, the surge of raw materials in the past two years has caused harm to the whole battery industry, so it is very important to promote the improvement of a recycling system to reduce costs. On October 24, TrendForce released a report estimating that the global recycling scale of power and energy storage batteries will exceed 1TWh by 2030, of which the recycling scale of lithium iron phosphate batteries will exceed 58%.

At present, there are two ways to recycle retired power batteries: re-utilization and raw materials extraction. The former is to disassemble and reorganize the retired power battery and apply it to fields such as energy storage that do not require high energy density. The latter is to extract cobalt, nickel, lithium and other expensive metal materials from discarded batteries.

In terms of re-utilization, the document jointly issued by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and other departments in China in August last year proposed that new energy vehicle batteries generally still have 70% to 80% of their remaining capacity after retirement, which can be used for energy storage fields to maximize the utilization rate.

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Earlier, Huang Libin, director general of the Department of Energy Conservation and Comprehensive Utilization of MIIT, revealed that the administration is exploring new business models such as “renting batteries” and “exchanging waste for raw materials”, and will speed up the introduction of national standards for battery recycling. At present, China has built more than 10,000 battery recycling service outlets covering the whole country.

According to the analysis of Fubao Lithium, a Chinese consulting agency, in 2022, the recycling capacity of lithium batteries in China reached 960,000 tons, mainly distributed in Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangdong and Zhejiang Province, among which Hunan has the highest capacity, about 195,000 tons per year.