Tesla Motors Launches Battery Recycling Program throughout Europe

Umicore’s Belgium facility will recycle the spent battery packs collected through Tesla’s program.

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January 27, 2011

Tesla Motors, a manufacturer of electric automobiles founded in 2003, has launched a plan to recycle its battery packs throughout Europe. At the end of the battery packs’ life, Tesla will recycle its battery packs at Umicore Group’s UHT facility in Belgium. Tesla says that the average lifespan of the battery packs is between 7-10 years.

Umicore, a materials technology group with a significant presence in the recycling sector, will take the batteries and refine the material into cobalt, nickel and other metals. Umicore will then recycle the cobalt into high grade lithium cobalt oxide, which can be resold to battery manufacturers. One of the few byproducts of the approach is a clean, inert slag containing calcium oxides and lithium. The slag will be used in the production of special grades concretes.

Tesla says that Umicore’s battery recycling technology will reduce CO2 emissions by at least 70 percent through the recovery and refining of the metals.

“While we work to help lessen global dependence on petroleum-based transportation and drive down the cost of electric vehicles, we are also taking the lead in developing a closed loop battery recycling system,” says Kurt Kelty, Tesla’s director of Energy Storage Systems in a posting on Tesla’s Website.

In North America, Tesla already is working with Kinsbursky Brothers to recycle about 60 percent of the battery packs generated in the United States.