GF Blog – Week 27

July 5th

All change in our politics, but the challenges ahead are enormous. .. which probably explains why many voters harbour grave doubts about what can be achieved by Team Labour.     

I have experienced quite a number of general elections in my 7 decades, out of which the only one that had a massively powerful and unforgettable effect on me emotionally was the return of Maggie Thatcher for her 3rd term in 1987. It wasn’t so much the constant Blue politics I hated as the ‘lady’s not for turning’ harshness and total lack of empathy.

This time round, here in Southeast Cornwall, I am aware of teams of people that worked their socks off to get the change that has come about – first time ever with a Labour MP. No doubt they are jubilant, but that is not how I feel. Every single element of life feels deserving of a fresh start, better management, in many cases more finances and yet – the phrases we keep hearing, well-worn already – there is a mountain to climb and no magic-powered cliff railway in view.

The big hope for me is that it may prove possible to get messages over to the new Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband. But is he going to be a listener? And what is his record? Not at all reassuring! Mind you it looks more about absence from the votes, than opposition. I’m puzzled and disappointed.

Ed Miliband generally voted against financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation methods.

Yesterday (Friday) the un-missable effect of election results for me was to bring on a massive migraine, so I apologise but I shall leave this topic until next time and just bring you a few short matters arising in the past week.

Funding Opportunities approved – but still a way to go

Last Friday an enigmatic email landed, offering about 75% of the money I requested for an Early Years project in the autumn term. There was no explanation as to how the funders expect me to cut the budget a new way, and instead I am tasked with working beneath the umbrella of another organisation. What? Why? I really didn’t know what to say, beyond a couple of sentences such as ‘I don’t understand, please explain’. The next thing that happened was a crash of work email system, for the whole week – it really does seem the universe is trying to tell me to ‘stop, think, review’ … and that is what I am doing right now.

In the revised project I am expecting to concentrate much more on engaging outdoors, in a physical environment, within which I hope to include sound. It is an idea I already had, having composed one song already, but then I watched a TV feature about the sound garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, playing plant music in tribute to Octavia Hill, founder of the National Trust. I need to connect with Hall for Cornwall’s music and sound artist, to discuss practicalities.

The garden showcasing Mr Wiggan’s creation bagged the Silver-Gilt Medal and the inaugural Children’s Choice Award.

He is now aiming to educate, share and engage people with sound as a creative field, and reconnect with their lives using sound art.

He added: “It’s super exciting to belong to such a high-profile team of international garden designers, landscapers, the National Trust, and Blue Diamond Garden Centres. It’s allowed for renewed discussions for artists to engage with the public in new and creative ways.”

What next?

I have begun to set out the garden design, of which this is a portion. Sorry that I have to restrict the sharing with you, to protect the idea from being picked up and used by others …

4th Activity – Natural Heat and Power from our Weather

5th Activity – Exploration of batteries, storing power and lighting small torches

etc etc

ending with Song of Our Magic Metals

Along with the design on the ground I also have to work out how to deliver the sound outdoors, when a button is pressed? Then I can re-vamp the budget and take the completed idea to Imerys/ British Lithium … which brings me to a very helpful link about Lithium recycling (below), which was provided by one of their staff. Thank you, Jane.

If by any chance you, dear Reader, have space and an interest to create one of these in your neighbourhood or workplace, please send me a message very soon. It would be wonderful to bring another brain on board!

Lithium Recycling 1

https://northvolt.com/articles/hydrovolt/

Emma Nehrenheim, Chief Environmental Officer of Northvolt, comments: “Recycling end-of-life batteries is a cornerstone to ensuring the electric vehicle transition is a true success from an environmental perspective. The metals used in battery production are finite, but by substituting raw materials mined from the Earth with recycled materials we can not only cut the carbon footprint of batteries but enable the sustainable long-term use of lithium-ion battery technology.”

The recycling of batteries will contribute directly to the sustainability of the battery industry and is necessary for fulfilment of emerging European regulations governing batteries, including forthcoming mandatory recycling targets.

Significantly, the recovery of black mass – a powder containing metals of nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium – will reduce today’s dependence on mining as a source for primary raw materials, and all the relative risks and vulnerabilities associated with it.

Processing black mass into battery-grade material requires a hydrometallurgical treatment such as is being established at Northvolt’s Revolt Ett recycling plant in Skellefteå, Sweden. By 2025, it is expected Hydrovolt will produce over 2,000 tonnes of black mass annually.

Lithium Recycling 2

On Thursday I attended a parish council meeting, objecting to a planning application that would add another tricky entrance to the already dangerous main road I drive every day. Alongside me was Tony, a businessman who has wholeheartedly embraced Tesla cars for himself and his staff. He told me to look again at Tesla recycling.

https://www.tesla.com/support/sustainability-recycling#:~:text=None%20of%20our%20scrapped%20lithium,and%20must%20always%20be%20followed

There is not a lot of content from this Tesla link, just the simplest ‘Any battery that is no longer meeting a customer’s needs can be serviced by Tesla at one of our Service Centres around the world. None of our scrapped lithium-ion batteries go to landfilling, and 100% are recycled.’

Where is the evidence on this? Let’s find an independent report, most of which I have copied for you below:- https://www.batterycycle.io/what-tesla-does-when-its-batteries-reach-their-end-of-life/#:~:text=When%20they%20reach%20end-of,end%20up%20in%20another%20vehicle

How efficient is Tesla’s battery recycling process?

The company claims that 100% of its scrapped batteries are recycled, and none ends up in landfills. It has set up its own ecosystem to make new batteries from the old batteries it retrieves. The goal is to attain a closed-loop system.

Tesla chose to handle the recycling in-house rather than rely on third parties to be able to scale up as required. For now, most of the batteries Tesla deals with are still pre-consumer, as the majority of the cars it has made are still roadworthy, and their batteries are still going strong. However, Tesla is laying the groundwork for what will become a full-blown operation.

Part of this groundwork involves adding recycling facilities to its battery plants. These include Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Texas.

Back in July 2021, Tesla applied for a patent on recovering undamaged and unutilized nickel and cobalt, which are two critical raw materials in modern battery cells. The process uses electrochemical dissolution to recover these two materials. This patent is a big deal because it will help Tesla cut its expenditures for sourcing materials, alongside preventing the battery components from going to landfills. And while Tesla would prefer to move away from cobalt due to its controversial origin, this is the next best possible outcome.

“Our goal is to develop a safe recycling process with high recovery rates, low costs, and low environmental impact. From an economic perspective, we expect to recognize significant savings over the long term as the costs associated with large-scale battery material recovery and recycling will be far lower than purchasing additional raw materials for cell manufacturing.”

Tesla 2020 Impact Report

In late 2020, Tesla was issued a very significant fine by German authorities relating to its old battery management. In the country, auto manufacturers are obligated to take back batteries to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly fashion. However, Tesla’s German subsidiary clarified the fine was related to administrative requirements or reporting, as the company accepts battery packs. It is fighting the 12 million Euro fine.

Tesla, however, tries to extend the battery’s life before recycling. It believes prolonging life is superior and more beneficial to the environment, making the company try everything to keep each battery pack it receives working through servicing. This can be done at any of Tesla’s service centres around the world.

What about Tesla’s battery energy storage system business?

Tesla sells domestic energy storage products like the Powerwall. It also sets up large-scale energy storage systems like the one located in South Australia. It has an initial 100 MW capacity that can power 30,000 homes at peak output.

However, unlike companies like Lucid (with a top price EV at $169,000 supposedly providing over 500 miles range!), who want to repurpose their end-of-life batteries in energy storage systems, Tesla seems to prefer recycling. Back in 2016, its then Chief Technical Officer, JB Straubel, who was the company’s battery expert, said Tesla had looked at the option closely but concluded it was not an economical or excellent use of Tesla’s assets.

Incidentally, Straubel has left Tesla and is running startup Redwood Materials, which focuses on recycling electric vehicle batteries and operates a plant in Carson City, Nevada. It recently completed another round of funding and signed an agreement with Ford to recycle its batteries.

Battery Report Concludes

Most of the batteries made by Tesla are still working very well and retain high capacity even after many years. However, the company is preparing to responsibly handle the millions of EV batteries that will reach end-of-life in the future by making investments in battery recycling. It has created connected ecosystems from manufacturing, service and energy storage to address the challenges posed by the mass production of Electrical Vehicles reliant on Lithium-ion batteries.

And my last word is …

Seems that a great deal more industry work will be needed on this topic. And along with that, I should devote more time to further research too. In the meantime, I am happily bombing around in my HVO powered Citroen, rather than worrying about EV issues for myself. Very soon I will be publishing my report but – when I try to tell the story to the new government – will Ed Miliband show a jot of interest? I doubt it!

Leave a comment