General Recycling Issues And Drivers Economics and Planning

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Economics is an important consideration when designing a recycling process. Some generic constraints that determine whether recycling is economically viable have been discussed [5], These include the ability of the market to absorb the large quantity of recycled material that could result in the long term assuming that it is not recycled directly into new batteries. Market size is likely to differ for each of the specific materials that can be recovered. Price collapse or possibly an inability to sell the reclaimed products at all could be the result if a limited market is flooded with recycled material. A fundamental precept of chemical process economics (the Exclusion Principle) states that high-priced materials tend to have limited markets, while high volume materials have low unit prices [10]. It is therefore unrealistic to expect to enter a large size market for a particular commodity and command a high unit price.

Another general expectation is that the establishment of a new, large scale recycling process dedicated to a particular advanced battery chemistry will most likely take a long time. This is due to two factors: 1) the time required to obtain operating permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an unfamiliar process, and 2) the fact that financing will be difficult to obtain for such a project until there is an established waste stream. In fact, a recycling process that is capable of handling a variety of waste streams is much more likely to be implemented since the EV market and the types of power sources that will be used in EVs are relatively uncertain at this point.

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