EPA Drafts First Report of Electric Batteries

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft assessment April 30 that highlights strategies for improving the environmental profiles of batteries used in electric vehicles. With the help of battery manufacturers and suppliers, recyclers, trade organizations, scientists and the Energy Department, EPA conducted a screening-level life-cycle assessment (LCA), which the agency claims provided some useful insights into how best to grow the emerging advanced automotive battery industry in a more environmentally conscious way. EPA points to a strong projected growth of nearly $30 billion in the advanced battery industry by 2018, as essential to help drive innovation in such a way that preempts environmental and public health concerns down the road.

The assessment looked at batteries currently in use in electric and plug-in vehicles as well as single-walled carbon nanotube anodes, the next generation component for these lithium-ion batteries. By conducting an LCA, researchers were able to figure out at which points during a battery’s life cycle certain materials and design techniques might pose the greatest risk. Some key findings included: reducing the total amount or percentage of heavy metals found in these batteries, including recycled materials in their design, and using a solvent-free manufacturing process that allows for less energy use.

Comments on the draft report are due June 30, 2012. Leave your comments here: http://www.epa.gov/dfe/contact.htm

The full assessment can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/lbnp/Li-ion-battery-LCA-Report-42612.pdf

Written by CCAR