GRST Issues a List of 10 Inconvenient Truths about Conventional Lithium-ion Battery Manufacturing Methods
Hong Kong, 2nd August 2021 – GRST has issued a list of ten inconvenient truths about the impact that the production and recycling of lithium-ion batteries have on our climate, water sources, wildlife, and communities.
The award-winning water-based battery technology start-up estimates that any conventional lithium-ion battery pack found in an electric vehicle, mobile device, or energy storage solution releases about 95 to 122 kilograms of greenhouse gases per kilowatt-hour of energy during one life cycle, from mining and manufacture until the first time it is recycled ¹. This means that the batteries found in an average 80-kilowatt-hour electric vehicle can release as much as 9.76 tonnes of greenhouse gases during one battery life cycle. Up to 78% of these gases are emitted during the manufacturing process.
“The devastating environmental impact of lithium-ion batteries led the founders of GRST to explore the possibility of manufacturing cleaner, safer, and cheaper lithium-ion batteries in a toxic-free environment as early as 2011. That mission is even more critical today, given that the demand for lithium-ion batteries is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.3% from USD 41.1 billion in 2021 to USD 116.6 billion by 2030²,” said Mr. Justin Hung, co-founder and CEO of GRST.
The inventors of WATMAR³ believe that the global lithium-ion battery manufacturing industry is ripe for change, not only because of its polluting nature but also necessity. GRST predicts that lithium and cobalt, both essential components for lithium-ion batteries, will run into supply shortages as early as 2025. The ability to recycle already mined raw materials has become mission critical. Currently, over 95% of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries are sent to landfills.
“Equally important to us was the ability to recycle the depleted batteries in a greener way. At that time, Bill had been researching battery technologies for over 10 years as part of his PhD in electrochemistry, while I was running a business promoting eco-friendly water-based chemicals, such as sol-gel coating. The clean, water-based WATMAR³ lithium-ion battery technology is the result of our collaboration,” continued Mr. Hung. “The technology even won the Grand Prix at the 49th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva.”
“WATMAR³ technology uses water as the processing solvent, while conventional lithium-ion battery manufacturing methods use toxic solvents and chemicals, such as N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVdF). In addition to being abundant and natural, water has lots of advantages: it has no adverse effect on the environment, is easy to recover and reuse in an industrial process, and has a lower boiling point compared to many organic solvents. As a result, production of water-based WATMAR³ lithium-ion batteries cuts greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40% compared to current methods. At the same time, the recycling of WATMAR³ batteries leads to up to 99% recovery of vital raw materials, such as lithium and cobalt, while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%,” explained Dr. Bill Ho, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of GRST.
GRST says that the ease of recovering and recycling precious materials from lithium-ion batteries using its WATMAR³ water solvent and water-soluble binder makes a closed economy now both cleaner and more economically feasible for every battery manufacturer, user, seller, and recycler.
10 INCONVENIENT TRUTHS
Conventional lithium-ion battery manufacturing methods
1. Cobalt mining is a health hazard
Cobalt mining releases particles that cause serious health issues such as cancer, heart problems and thyroid disease. ³
2. Lithium dust clogs the lungs
Prolonged exposure to lithium dust causes fluid to build up in the lungs, leading to pulmonary edema. ⁴
3. Lithium extraction is water-intensive
Intensive water usage required by the lithium extraction process (approximately 500,000 gallons per metric tonne of lithium) deprives local communities of water. ⁵
4. Lithium mining contaminates the soil
Lithium mining leads to mountains of discarded salt and canals filled with contaminated water. ⁵
5. Lithium is a handling hazard
Lithium reacts explosively when it comes into contact with water to produce a highly caustic hydroxide. ⁴
6. Lithium refining can leach hazardous chemicals
Lithium refining relies on toxic chemicals such as hydrochloric acid, which can leach into local ecosystems and habitats. ⁶
7. NMP in solvents is a health hazard
NMP (N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone), commonly used in solvents, is highly toxic via inhalation and touch, affecting the brain and the nervous and reproductive systems.
8. NMP requires hazardous handling measures
NMP has a high boiling point of 202°C and requires special material handling measures that are both expensive and hazardous.
9. PVdF in binders releases greenhouse gases
PVdF (polyvinylidene fluoride) only breaks down at over 500 °C and releases potent greenhouse gases when recycled using pyrometallurgical methods.
10. Only 5% of lithium-ion batteries are recycled
Current lithium-ion batteries are hazardous and uneconomical to recycle. 95% end up in landfills, contributing to mountains of e-waste. ⁷
Annotations & Reference links
1.Data excludes greenhouse emissions as a result of transporting raw materials from remote locations to manufacturing bases.
2. The "Lithium-Ion Battery Market with COVID-19 Impact Analysis, by Type (Li-NMC, LFP, LCO, LTO, LMO, NCA), Capacity, Voltage, Industry (Consumer Electronics, Automotive, Power, Industrial), & Region (North America, Europe, APAC & RoW) - Global Forecast to 2030" report.
3. Life cycle assessment of cobalt extraction process.
4. Lithium Mining and Environmental Impact.
5. The Environmental Impact of Lithium Batteries.
6. Environmental Impact of Electric Car Batteries (Production, Use & Disposal)
7. Most lithium batteries end up in a landfill. A new bill aims to change that.
GRST is a technology company with strong research capabilities in water-based manufacturing and recycling solutions of lithium-ion batteries. Our award-winning, patented WATMAR³ technology creates high-performance lithium-ion batteries at lower costs and lower GHG emissions. For more information, please visit grst.com