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Car Batteries: How to Go Without Cobalt

It’s not just about storage capacity and range anymore – batteries have to go “green” because raw materials are becoming scarce. Austrian teams reveal how manufacturing and recycling might work in the future.

Efficient batteries are an essential building block when it comes to a successful energy transition. But their production is energy intensive, and many of the materials used are scarce. In addition, batteries are difficult to recycle. Therefore, scientists around the world are working on “green batteries”, and Austrian research institutions contribute their expertise to the development of sustainable, efficient and safe energy storage systems for the future.

Their approach: on the one hand, environmentally friendly alternative materials must be found, and on the other hand, processing technologies in production and recycling must be improved. The innovation is driven by electric mobility, because it has the greatest need: while most small electronic devices have a single battery cell installed, a car battery can consist of many thousands of cells. Stefan Freunberger of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (Ista) near Vienna explains the dilemma: “According to forecasts, we will need about 20 times more energy storage capacity worldwide in 2030 than in 2018. At the same time, many raw materials for batteries Running out of steam, there are even pessimistic estimates that the planned phase-out of internal combustion engines could fail within twelve years because known reserves of cobalt ore would have been exhausted by then.

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