After publishing my blogs about Tesla giant batteries in Australia, I have received many questions and comments about Tesla lithium-ion batteries recycling plan. I have contacted Tesla Energy and this is what I got from them. I hope this will answer some of the questions you might have about recycling such a huge batteries.
“Tesla’s Lithium-ion batteries, such as those used in Tesla Energy Products, contain valuable materials that can be recovered and recycled for further use in battery and other applications. Tesla strongly encourages recycling and attempts to retrieve all batteries that have reached end of life (EOL) for purposes of recycling. Tesla has developed, and is working to further improve, a method for recycling our products. Currently, Tesla’s Lithium-ion battery recycling process involves the following steps:
- When a Tesla product must be decommissioned, it is transported to a Tesla facility for disassembly.
- Batteries are discharged to a low state-of-charge, and modules are removed from packs. Some valuable components are removed from modules for scrap metal recycling by qualified Tesla employees.
- Modules are then packaged for shipment to a North American processing partner in accordance with all applicable shipping regulations. Tesla has confirmed that at least two established North American recycling processors are capable of recycling Tesla battery modules.
- At the processing facility, modules are rendered inert and deconstructed. Constituent metals are recovered in separate processes.
Tesla modules are composed of small cylindrical form factor cells, similar to the cells used in many laptops and consumer electronics. Tesla lithium-ion batteries do not contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, or mercury. Thus, processors use techniques developed for recycling of consumer electronic device battery packs to recycle Tesla modules.
The materials recovered from Tesla module include nickel, cobalt, copper, aluminum, steel, and lithium. These output products are further refined and used in new applications.
If disposal is required without return to Tesla, entire battery systems can be recycled by a lithium-ion battery recycling facility. A number of North American recycling processors are able to deconstruct large format battery packs, much like Tesla products. Note that Tesla Powerwall and Powerpack systems are designed to allow replacement of modules, which also ensures that full system deconstruction is straightforward to accomplish.”
Still, I did not get an answer about batteries in projects outside North America. for example, Australia. Do customers have to send the batteries back to the US? Hopefully, I will share this information as soon as I get it from Tesla.