It’s an understandable concern; many of us are used to using consumer electronic devices powered by rechargable batteries that develop what’s known as “memory.” The effect is caused by repeatedly charging a cell before it has been fully depleted, resulting in the cell “forgetting” that it can deplete itself further. The lithium-ion cells used by EVs aren’t really affected by the memory effect, but they can degrade storage capacity if subjected to too many fast charges or if their thermal management isn’t taken seriously.
Based on the IEA report, demand for graphite is expected to increase 25× over the next 20 years, while lithium demand will increase by a factor of 70
In the late 2010s, between 200,000 and 500,000 EV batteries were retired in the U.S. each year. By 2025, annual EOL batteries may be closer to 1 million units, and that number may reach 2 million by 2040.
Recycling is perhaps the most studied of the five options and offers quite a few pathways for retired EV batteries, as it is stimulated and supported by policy in many countries. It is also an arduous and dangerous process that involves splitting the battery apart to extract the metals inside — and even simple transportation and storage of the roughly 960–pound batteries can be hazardous.