In this section, you will learn about the sourcing and composition of batteries, as well as the different types, their operation and recyclability, with focus on the Lithium-ion battery and how recycling is encouraging a circular economy.
A battery is a device that holds electrical energy in the form of chemicals. With the help of an electrochemical reaction, it converts stored chemical energy into direct current electrical energy. Batteries are a collection of one or more cells whose chemical reactions create a flow of electrons in a circuit. Instead the accumulator, it is not rechargeable and is therefore also called a primary battery. There are six different types of portable batteries, divided according to their composition:
A portable accumulator is distinguished by the fact that it is rechargeable and, only after numerous discharge and recharge processes, does it wear out and become waste.
Based on their components, portable accumulators can be divided into 5 categories:
nickel metal hydride;
In recent decades, batteries were characterized by a narrow range of chemicals and were mainly used for vehicle ignition, consumer electronics and other industrial applications. However, current trends and forecasts indicate that batteries will play a crucial role for a number of products and services in the economy of the future, facilitating the digital and low-carbon energy transition. a large increase in lithium batteries is expected, including a significant proportion of high nickel compositions such as NMC (lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt
The answer to “what is inside a battery?” starts with a breakdown of what makes a battery a battery.
Example of an Alkaline battery
Container Steel can that houses the cell’s ingredients to form the cathode, a part of the electrochemical reaction.
Cathode A combo of manganese dioxide and carbon, cathodes are the electrodes reduced by the electrochemical reaction.
Separator Non-woven, fibrous fabric that separates the electrodes.
Anode Made of powered zinc metal, anodes are electrodes that are oxidized.
Electrolyte Potassium hydroxide solution in water, the electrolyte is the medium for the movement of ions within the cell. It carries the iconic current inside the battery.
Collector Brass pin in the middle of the cell that conducts electricity to the outside circuit.
Although very useful, batteries are not a renewable source of energy. They are made from non-renewable materials such as lithium.
Lithium comes from brine and hard rock found in salt lakes that are either extracted or mined in places like South America and Australia.
Now, there is a push to create a circular economy with a focus on effective battery recycling to reduce impacts of mining.
RENAULT GROUP AND SOLVAY CASE STUDY
In order to develop the circular economy principles in the world of batteries and accumulators, companies have developed numerous good practices in recent years.
An interesting example is the case of the Renault Group and Solvay - which you can find in the video below - decidedly virtuous especially if we take into account that the number of electric vehicles worldwide is expected to grow from 10 million in 2020 to over 100 million by 2030: a number that makes us reflect on how important it is to move quickly in an increasingly sustainable direction.
Educational module realized with the support of Consorzio RLG
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